Uneven development is a law of the development of capitalism and imperialism. British imperialism had been the first imperialism. Its characteristic had been its acquisition of colonies to which it exported its capital. After the penal colony phase, this had been the fate of Australia. With the decline of Britain so there was a decline in her colonies and her hold over her colonies. U.S. imperialism became the dominant imperialism. Now it was the contender for world domination. From early times there was U.S. investment in Australia but World War II saw a tremendous development of it and a perspective of ever more aggressive U.S. investment in Australia.
In order to carry out such investment, preparation of every kind was necessary. In the working class itself careful preparation was necessary above all to try to ensure “peace in industry”, to ensure a working class that would submit to exploitation. Thus the then projected extension of U.S. investment in Australia was vigorously propagated and warmly welcomed as being to the great benefit of Australia. It no doubt was beneficial to an Australia owned by the monopolies.
U.S. diplomats, business men, etc., took a very keen interest in Australia’s “labor relations”. Their intelligence services collected information, labor attaches attended trade union gatherings, the predecessors of the D.L.P were given big U.S. assistance (as the D.L.P. now is).
The labor party and trade union leaders declared their support for the U.S.-Australia alliance. Curtin, Australian labor Prime Minister, at the outset of his Prime Ministership during World War II declared Australia’s complete dependence upon the U.S.A. He said: “Without inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom. We know the problems with which the United Kingdom is faced: we know too that Australia can go and Britain can still hold on. We are therefore determined that Australia shall not go, and we shall exert all our energies towards shaping our plan, with the United States as its keystone, which will give our country some confidence of being able to hold out until the tide of battle turns against the enemy.” (December 27, 1941.)
Later the labor Prime Minister Chifley carried out this line vigorously. A supreme example was his assistance to General Motors. Chifley provided the finance and every other resource needed to get this giant U.S. corporation going in Australia. He did nothing whatever to secure even a moderate Australian hold in it – it was unrestricted U.S. monopoly capitalism.
Chifley, the Labor Prime Minister, also gave guarantees to the U.S. investors that he would control the Australian workers. Another illustration of the thoroughgoing capitalist character of the Labor Party was Chifley’s suppression of the coal miners strike in 1949. In 5-6 weeks the Chifley government introduced into parliament emergency repressive arbitration legislation, passed it in record time, upheld its validity in an emergency sitting of the High Court (then on vacation), called the arbitration court into action, froze the funds of various unions, gaoled strike leaders, used the army to work the mines, the navy to handle ships. In those dramatic events the Labor leaders gave a vivid demonstration of their capitalist character; they used every arm of the state apparatus against the workers. They were showing U.S. imperialism they could be relied upon for action against the workers.
All this reflected the development of U.S. investment in Australia. As a party of capitalism the labor party (and of course the open parties of the reaction) simply carried out their role of developing and administering capitalism. The direction of development of Australian capitalism determined by the immanent laws of imperialism was as an investment centre for U.S. imperialism. This arose from the objective conditions.
Just as important to the U.S. imperialists as support by the local capitalists and local parties of capitalism, was to seek support within the working class itself. The truth that the bourgeoisie strives always to make everything in its own image, to adapt everything to itself, operates throughout and it applies as we have shown, to the Communist Party.
In Australia, some Communist leaders had had an ideological attitude strongly influenced by the bourgeoisie, i.e., their minds reflected the pressure of bourgeois ideas. This had led them into a wrong appraisal of the war, into wrong suppression of working class struggle in the anti-fascist war, to a failure to fight for Communist initiative and independence within the united front and thus to a certain amalgamation with the labor party. Now the U.S. imperialists in carrying out their investment in Australia exerted great ideological pressure in Australia. These ideas were bound to penetrate the Communist Party. Browder was the quintessence of this ideology. He moulded, adapted his “Communism” to fit the needs of U.S. imperialism. His ideas fell into the already fertile minds of some leading Communists in Australia. This greatly assisted the process of U.S. investment in Australia because it disarmed and confused what should have been the very party of the working class.
The cruder expressions of Browder’s ideas were ultimately rejected by the Communist Party in Australia. But the Party’s continuing ideological weakness made it very difficult for it to investigate the basis of the error with its consequences in the disarming of the workers, surrender of initiative and independence in the united front, to ideological amalgamation with the labor party, and lack of attention to ideological, political and organisational building up of the party through self criticism of these errors.