Continuing revolution by stages, namely anti-imperialist independence, socialism, Communism, is what emerges from an analysis of Australia. It is rather important to deal in a little more detail with some aspects of continuing revolution by stages.
Two questions cause confusion. All socialists want socialism. The basis for socialism in Australia has already been examined. The ardent commendable desire for socialism sometimes leads to characterising the present stage of Australia’s revolution as socialist. This trend asserts that Australian capitalism has developed to the extent that direct socialist proletarian revolution is immediately possible. This means that the sole force in revolutionary struggle is the working class.
On the other hand, there is a trend to deny altogether the objective of socialism. This trend concentrates exclusively on Australian independence.
Communists do, as the famous Communist Manifesto said, disdain to conceal their aims. Communism is the aim of all Communists. But Communists are scientific. They recognise that there are essential stages in the process of achieving Communism, that social development dictates those stages and that it is absolutely impossible to skip over the stages. The whole point is that it is a continuing process, continuing struggle by stages. A good deal has been said about this.
A study of the facts of Australian history and of the present position in Australia leads to certain conclusions.
It may be repeated that there is at the present stage a measure of Australian independence. The process of development of Australia, of struggle in Australia has compelled the recognition of an independence for Australia. The content of that independence is another matter. If the truth is sought from the facts of Australia’s position, that truth is that Australia’s measure of independence is limited. Lenin was paraphrased earlier when it was said that Australia is a country politically independent but enmeshed in diplomatic and financial dependence on imperialism.
The other side of the picture is Australia’s dependence. This turns upon the huge imperialist investment in Australia, particularly U.S. imperialist and growing Soviet imperialist “interest”, upon Australia as a source of raw materials, upon Australia’s strategic position in the world.
Australia is thus both independent and dependent. It is extremely important and precious that it is independent. Limited though that independence may be, it is the fruit of development and struggle. Australian patriotic people are deeply attached to that independence. They have participated in struggle for it. At the same time, it is a stepping stone, a base as it were, for further struggle to extend that independence. There is something of an analogy to freedom of the press, speech, assembly. Even the nominal freedom of the press (when the material means for its exercise are largely absent) is a very important freedom to the working class; it and other such freedoms, even though limited, even though the shadow and not the substance, provide the best opportunities within which to conduct struggle.
Independence and dependence have their respective economic foundations. Australia is a comparatively developed capitalist country with independence, even though that independence has severe material restriction and still surviving formal restrictions. The defence of independence lies in the working class, working and other sections of the people developed by advanced capitalist economy. On the other hand, dependence lies in ownership and control of the decisive lines of the economy by multinationals and collaborating local monopoly capitalists. Independence and dependence exist. They interpenetrate each other.
The struggle of the workers, working and patriotic people thrown up by that very dependence, is to wrest complete independence from the controllers of the dependence. The people press to defend and extend independence while the exploiters of the dependence press to restrict independence, to keep it purely nominal. As has been seen, the would-be maintainers of Australia’s dependence are chiefly U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism and their Australian collaborators. The main forces for independence are the workers allied to other working people, Australian capitalists (who vacillate between desire for independence of the multinationals and fear of the workers) and other patriotic people.
The dependence on imperialism is the immediate barrier to socialism. Not only the workers have an interest in breaking dependence. As pointed out, even sections of the capitalists have an interest. In between are other sections of the people. The material basis for widespread struggle exists. Many people can unite to break the shackles of dependence. The workers seek to do so because they seek socialism. At the other end the Australian national capitalists want their own place in the sun, want an Australia for Australian capitalists. To a degree they oppose dependence. True, their dream of an independent capitalist Australia can never be realised. But they can be accommodated and their interests appropriately looked after in independence struggle and after its victory. The intermediate sections of the people are less equivocal than the capitalists in their alliance with the workers.
The old colonial relics are swept away. Australia becomes one people’s nation. State barriers are ended. The widest possible unity is necessary to combat and defeat such powerful enemies as the local and multinational monopoly capitalists and the superpowers. All who want independence can unite. Naturally it is a complicated process. Nonetheless it is going on and in a historical sense, fairly rapidly.
Communists participate in it to the full. Within it, the various social classes seek to lead it. The capitalist class seeks to impose its will on the struggle, to restrict it, to win concessions from the imperialists, to decline to carry independence through to the end. On the other hand, the workers through their leadership in the Communists, seek to make it thoroughgoing, to defeat completely the imperialist grip, to consummate Australia’s independence.
There is a unity of independence forces and a struggle amongst them, unity and struggle. Struggle is directed at building unity. In this whole process, the Communists retain their independence and initiative. They do not seek to ram their views down the throats of other participants nor make adherence to Communism a condition of Communist participation in united struggle. However, they take their stand that Communists must retain their independence, be free to expound their own ideas, and struggle, work, to win the people for their ideas. Appropriate unity and struggle are a process. All unity and no struggle is wrong and all struggle and no unity is wrong.
In fact in Australia as has been seen, there is a great diversity of people, of groups, of organisations, engaged in an equally great diversity of struggle. Some organisations have a more militant stand than others, some have a united front character and raise independence as a demand, others have a far more limited scope. Those of a united front character embrace various strata of people but they are not the united front but participants in it. It is wrong that they should seek to circumscribe others by their own demands. The united front is far wider. All should work together.
Nor is the united front some artificial formal movement. It may involve formal agreements. Essentially it is a living unity of struggle bound together in common striving for independence for Australia.
The Communists seek to promote the common demand for independence, to show that the particular problems for example of participation in the war in Vietnam, the questions of uranium, of the environment, of Omega, of freeways, of living standards, of democratic liberties, can only be solved in freeing Australia from dependence upon imperialism and in particular from U.S. imperialism and the even more menacing Soviet social-imperialism.
In days gone by, the united front was conceived of as an agreement between the Labor Party and Communist Party. In fact this ended up as complete subordination of the whole struggle to the Labor Party which, as has been seen, is a party of capitalism. Hence the direction of such a united front could only be to serve capitalism. The united front means involving everyone and every organisation with an interest in independence in common struggle for independence. The Communists seek in the use of their initiative and independence to give the whole struggle greater and greater consciousness. They recognise that the decisive force within it is the working class. The working class is the most stable force, the most numerous and cohesive and most directly attached to the most advanced means of production.
As for the Labor Party, its rank and file and even some of its leaders certainly participate in united front action as do adherents of other parliamentary parties. But there is and can be no condition of other participants having imposed on them the Labor Party’s or any other Party’s organisation and doctrine.
As for the capitalists who, from time to time participate in united action, they are under the illusion that there can be an independent capitalist Australia. This can not be. The world is wholly divided up. Particularly is it dominated by the big imperialist powers. There is no room for a new independent capitalist country. Nor will a people who are strong enough to oust imperialism from Australia be content to accept in its place the shackles of a new all-round Australian capitalism. Independence then can only be anti-imperialist independence.
In the conditions of today, the struggle for independence enters the general stream of world proletarian socialist revolution. Our era is the era of the collapse of imperialism and the victory of proletarian revolution. This is because the only logical and practical way to socialism lies in independence. Since independence cannot be capitalist, it must be anti-imperialist and the content of anti-imperialist revolution must lead to socialism.
There are two stages to Australia’s revolution. The first is the completion of the tasks of the anti-imperialist revolution. Earlier reference has been made to the division into States and to other colonial relics, to the multinationals and local collaborating monopoly capitalists straddling Australia’s economic lifelines. This is the main barrier to socialism. Overcoming this barrier constitutes a definite stage of socialist revolution. In the process Australia will be unified as a nation, the restrictive, entrenched States will give way to one nation. The achievement of socialism is another stage. They are separate stages yet interpenetrate each other. The anti-imperialist stage lays the foundation for the socialist stage. Without completing the anti-imperialist stage there can be no advance to socialism.
In the achievement of anti-imperialist independence there are undoubtedly socialist components. For example, the great multinationals already have socialised production. The process of extending that socialised production into socialised ownership is a task of anti-imperialist revolution. Alongside this however are smaller capitalists, farmers, businessmen, other working people. Smaller capitalists can continue under the anti-imperialist dictatorship rule by the vast majority over the tiny minority. Within the anti-imperialist dictatorship socialism will be built up. This too is a process of struggle but of a character different from the overthrow of the imperialist multinational and local collaborating monopoly capitalists who resist with violence and must be overthrown with violence. The anti-imperialist revolution is carried through into the new stage.