Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

E. F. Hill

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


Having defined the nature of the Australian revolution, it is desirable to look forward a little, though there is of course the benefit of more than 50 years of experience. That experience has greatly enriched Communist theory and practice in the world and in Australia. Experience includes negative experience.

To win Australia’s independence and overthrow imperialist domination requires intense struggle by the working class and its allies.

The rule of the bourgeoisie rests on force and violence. The violence of the police, the law courts and the gaols is an everyday occurrence in Australian life. Behind that violence, if it is not enough to keep the people in subjection, is the army, and the army is the key weapon in the apparatus of the state; it is the chief component of state power. The violence of an army can only be overthrown by the violence of an army. In Russia, the Russian workers took up arms to destroy the armies of the counter-revolution. The armies of the counter-revolution had always initiated violence against the working people. In China, the Chinese workers and peasants formed their own armies and fought a protracted revolutionary war against the armies of the counter-revolution and the Japanese imperialists. Again the armies of the counter-revolution and of the Japanese imperialists had always been the initiators of violence. Hence critical to the politics of Russia and China and the prosecution of the class struggle, was the creation and development of an army composed of all the revolutionary sections of the people led by the working class. Such an army breaks the ruling class’s monopoly of violence and combats violence with violence. This involves ideological, political and organisational preparation.

In Australia, though the situation has great differences, nevertheless the universal truth of the central position of armed struggle holds good. “The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds good universally, for China and for all other countries.

But while the principle remains the same, its application by the party of the proletariat finds expression in varying ways according to the varying conditions. Internally, capitalist countries practise bourgeois democracy (not feudalism) when they are not fascist or not at war; in their external relations, they are not oppressed by, but themselves oppress, other nations. Because of these characteristics, it is the task of the party of the proletariat in the capitalist countries to educate the workers and build up strength through a long period of legal struggle, and thus prepare for the final overthrow of capitalism. In these countries, the question is one of a long legal struggle, of utilizing parliament as a platform, of economic and political strikes, of organizing trade unions and educating the workers. There the form of organization is legal and the form of struggle bloodless (non-military). On the issue of war, the Communist parties in the capitalist countries oppose the imperialist wars waged by their own countries; if such wars occur, the policy of these Parties is to bring about the defeat of the reactionary governments of their own countries. The one war they want to fight is the civil war for which they are preparing. But this insurrection and war should not be launched until the bourgeoisie becomes really helpless, until the majority of the proletariat are determined to rise in arms and fight, and until the rural masses are giving willing help to the proletariat. And when the time comes to launch such an insurrection and war, the first step will be to seize the cities, and then advance into the countryside, and not the other way about. All this has been done by Communist Parties in capitalist countries, and it has been proved correct by the October Revolution in Russia.” (Mao Tsetung: Problems of War and Strategy. Selected Works,Vol. II, p.219.)

After the Chinese revolutionary peasants and workers had defeated the enemy, Mao Tsetung said: “A well disciplined Party armed with the theory of Marxism-Leninism, using the method of self-criticism and linked with the masses of the people; an army under the leadership of such a Party; a united front of all revolutionary classes and all revolutionary groups under the leadership of such a Party – these are the three main weapons with which we have defeated the enemy.” (On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, Selected Works, Vol. IV, p.422.)

This too sums up the basic tasks of the revolution in Australia, subject of course to the different conditions in Australia from those in China. Therefore the Communists in Australia had the task of building a well disciplined Communist Party armed with the theory of Marxism-Leninism which used the method of self-criticism and was closely linked with the Australian workers, working and oppressed people; of struggling to create a revolutionary army and of building a united front of all revolutionary Australians.

We have emphasised the leading role of the working class in the revolutionary movement. The Communist Party is the party of the working class. It is, in Australian conditions, the workers and the armed workers who are the decisive force of the revolution. Accordingly the Party must be organised deep in the working class and deep amongst the workers at the point of production, i.e., in the actual workplaces. It is in the actual workplaces that the workers are united by the very process of production, where they are most revolutionary.

Moreover the Party must be shod on all feet. It must be fully equipped to meet all situations. It is confronted with a well entrenched enemy which has an older ideology, is more experienced in politics and organisation and has an army, secret and open police.

The Party must be capable of maintaining its mass connections in all circumstances, particularly among the workers. While taking full advantage of all legal opportunities it must never lose sight of the fact that the organisational connections of its main mass work must be concealed from the enemy. Hence its work must be open and secret, legal and illegal and it must be prepared as circumstances demand to change its emphasis from one to the other, to expand or contract one or the other. There is much misunderstanding about open work. Open work is work done among the workers and working people but the organisational connections of its Communist character are generally concealed from the enemy.

There is a difference between a Communist who works openly among the workers and working people and on the other hand a publicly proclaimed Communist. The former works freely (openly, makes no attempt 10 conceal himself, hide away) among the people but conceals his Communist organisational connections from the enemy. He is the fish that swims in the sea of the people. It is possible in the legal conditions in Australia to have a few publicly proclaimed Communists known to the workers and known to the enemy. The fact of their Communism is proclaimed and well known. But this is the exception. If all the Communists did that it would mean the Communist Party was a sect known to the enemy and cut off from the people and therefore ineffective.

All forms of struggle are directed towards the winning of independence from imperialism, towards the establishment of a new democratic anti-imperialist government. That involves the building up of the Communist Party, prolonged preparation and work for the armed struggle of the anti-imperialist united front. The struggle to arm the anti-imperialist forces involves making the anti-imperialist cause a mass question, making the Communist approach to revolution a mass question. It involves explaining the role of force in history, explaining that all classes rely on force to maintain their rule or to seize power from another class, to show that the capitalist class and the imperialist dominators of Australia always use force and violence to maintain their rule and domination and that their counter-revolutionary violence must be met with revolutionary violence.

The ruling class has for centuries instilled into the people the idea that the people should not have guns. In other words, the ruling class has established for itself a certain ideological monopoly on the matter of guns and it has taken various “legal” steps to enforce this monopoly as a physical fact.

It is very difficult for the labouring people, who have been deceived and intimidated by the reactionary ruling classes for thousands of years, to awaken to the importance of having guns in their own hands. (Mao Tsetung: Problems of War and Strategy, Selected Works, Vol. II, p.224.)

The precise form of armed struggle in countries such as Australia has not yet been worked out. But from resistance to police assaults, batons, etc., step by step consciousness of combating police and army guns by revolutionary guns is not so difficult. Every ounce of experience both in Australia and elsewhere needs very close examination so that Australian people can learn from both positive and negative experience.

It is a revolutionary task to break this ruling class monopoly of guns both ideologically and materially. This requires carrying out step by step.

Then the united front is the unity of all forces that can be united against the enemies of the people. That requires identification of those enemies and uniting in a real way (not merely in a formal way) all those who can be united against those enemies. In no sense is this an artificial scheme. It is a united action that arises from life itself. The Eureka miners by their action united many diverse people around them directed against the then colonial autocracy. The participants in the maritime strike united many diverse people around them. The working class, when its policies, actions and struggles are correct, always unites many people around it. A Communist Party which works correctly makes an analysis of who are the enemies at a given time and who can be united against those enemies. The main force in the revolutionary movement is the working class but essential forces exist in the rural proletarians, the semi-proletarians (those who own a small farm but also work for wages) the smaller farmers who are just above these two levels; others in the rural community can be involved; then there are the various strata of the intermediate sections of the population, clerks, lower and intermediate public servants, students and other intellectuals, smaller businessmen and some patriotic sections of the capitalist class. There will be excluded those who collaborate with the imperialist bourgeoisie.