Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

E. F. Hill

The Great Cause of Australian Independence


In the 20th century the processes already at work continued. Capitalism developed greatly within Australia particularly during World War I, Britain declined as an imperialist power, the U.S.A. greatly advanced as an imperialist power, the October socialist revolution occurred in Russia and capitalism entered its general final crisis.

All these events left their mark on Australia.

Steel production commenced on a large-scale basis in 1915. Around steel production, other secondary industries grew. In itself this marked a significant change. Up until the time Australia developed a steel industry, it was wholly dependent upon Britain for fabricated steel and steel products. It can be seen how greatly an Australian steel industry eased the dependence of Australia on Britain or at least laid a foundation for it. While a country is wholly dependent upon another country for some vital commodity, that country cannot have real independence. In the case of steel, the initial production in Australia was British-financed but Australians were involved in it. It called into being Australian workers in the very heart of heavy industry. Though many workers and particularly the skilled workers were British immigrants, still they were in an Australian environment and employed in an Australian capitalism.

Other branches of industry were set up in Australia. Still a large dependence on imperialism remained both in the import of capital and commodities and the export particularly of primary products. Thoroughgoing independence was not achieved. Australia remained enmeshed in financial and economic dependence on Britain.

During World War II the processes that determined the decline of British imperialism and the advance of U.S. imperialism came to a head. U.S. imperialism advanced vigorously and became the decisive imperialism in Australia. It inherited, as it were, Australia’s dependence on Britain.

True to the nature of imperialism it exported capital to Australia. It exported commodities of many kinds. Its industries assumed a central part in Australia’s economy. Whereas the rising Australian capitalists had entered into partnership with British capitalists, now they entered into partnership with U.S. capitalists. Thus the very company which under British inspiration had commenced the production of steel in Australia entered into partnerships both with U.S. monopolies and Japanese monopolies. It was in this process that BHP and the gigantic U.S. multi-national Exxon became partners – BHP-Esso.

The Australian constitution, a neo-colonial measure of Britain, became now the neo-colonial weapon of U.S. imperialism.

The division into separate States within the “united” Australia which was a source of weakness in the development of Australia as a single united nation, was a source of power to U.S. imperialism. The separate States constituted fertile fields of exploitation, could be used against each other and against the central government. In turn the central government could be used.

The provisions of the old imperialist constitution provided a ready-made legal weapon. The course of judicial interpretation of that constitution is a striking commentary on the development of Australia and its relation to the imperialist power. That interpretation always reflected the relation of Australia to the dominant imperialism. The material base compelled the particular interpretation.

The judges who reflected the Australian bourgeoisie’s striving for a single Australian capitalist nation favoured a centralist interpretation of the constitution. They wanted one nation. But they vacillated anal wavered just as does the national bourgeoisie. Two examples may be taken. Up to the Engineers’ case in 1920, judges who opposed the central power held a majority on the High Court. World War I greatly speeded up the development of Australia. In accordance with this a majority of High Court judges overthrew the old anti-unitary legal doctrine. This process was carried forward in World War II when the High Court upheld the validity of uniform taxation for Australia. But at all times the struggle between adherents of united Australia and adherents of separatism has gone on. S. 92 of the constitution and the approach of the High Court to it illustrate this. S. 92 says that trade, commerce and intercourse between the States shall be absolutely free. In a maze of conflicting High Court decisions on what this means can be seen at one time emphasis on Australia as one whole, at another time emphasis on division. This reflected imperialist interests clashing with Australia’s independent capitalist development. Likewise in S. 109 of the Constitution which provides for the supremacy of Commonwealth law over State law on matters on which they have concurrent legislative power. What all this underlines is the lack of thoroughgoing independence for Australia.

Reference has already been made to the use of the colonial relics in 1975 when the office of Governor-General was used to dismiss a government which was mildly critical of U.S. imperialism and leaned to Soviet social-imperialism. That same Governor-General is by the Constitution as has been seen the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces in Australia. This latter shows how the British imperialists visualised their appointed Governor-General as using the armed forces inside Australia and at the same time integrated them in the British imperialist armed forces. With the decline of Britain and the advance of the U.S.A., the U.S.A. simply used the old weapons.

On the other hand, the very speed and aggression of U.S. imperialist expansion in Australia called into being a greatly strengthened proletariat. The proletariat (the industrial workers) increased in numbers, in consciousness, in strength. U.S. imperialist expansion also called into being Australian capitalists to provide components for U.S. industry, Australian farmers produced primary products for U.S. processing. Such a process increased dependence on the U.S. but on the other hand raised the potential for revolt against U.S. imperialism. The development of anti-U.S. imperialist sentiment and struggle pushed the independence movement forward.

In accordance with all this the state machine necessarily largely served U.S. imperialism. Literature and art, education, the press, likewise largely served it.

It all called into being the forces that rebelled against U.S. imperialism.

And what of the world situation in which this was going on?

In 1917 the Russian workers overthrew the Russian bourgeoisie in the October revolution. They set about the building of socialism. This revolution had world-shaking effects.

It showed the accuracy of the scientific socialist analysis. It showed the enormous power of the proletariat and of the peasants led by them. It showed how the old state apparatus must be destroyed and a new state apparatus of proletarian dictatorship, proletarian possession, must be set up. It showed how the great contradiction between the expanding productive forces and the restricting relations of production must be resolved. It acted as a great theoretical and practical impetus to the whole of the working people of the world. It marked the change in the course of history from capitalist supremacy to socialist supremacy.

Socialism was built in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union showed a vast superiority over capitalism because its relations of production corresponded to the expanding productive forces whereas the antagonism between productive forces and relations of production in the capitalist world became more intense. In the economic crisis of the 1930s while socialist Soviet expansion of production went ahead by leaps and bounds, production in the capitalist countries declined catastrophically. As unemployment in the capitalist world mounted, unemployment in the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Whereas the capitalist countries of Europe collapsed before the onslaught of Nazi Germany in World War II, the socialist Soviet Union repelled Nazi Germany’s attack and rallied the peoples to victory! over Nazi Germany and its allies.

In the mid-nineteen fifties all-round capitalist relations of production began to be restored in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union became an imperialist power. It embarked on world-wide expansion and challenged the other imperialist powers, particularly U.S. imperialism.

In 1949 the Chinese people won liberation and entered upon the building of socialism. By 1956 they had completed the basic prerequisites for the all-round building of socialism.

The Soviet Union ceased to have socialist relations of production. The people of China established those very relations of production.

These socialist revolutions showed that the imperialist system was on the verge of collapse and socialism on the eve of attainment. The nature of our era is the collapse of imperialism and the victory of socialism, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution.

The crisis of capitalism was world-wide and all-round. The contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production had reached a critical point, where the irreconcilable contradiction could be resolved only in revolution. Economic crisis of ever-deepening degree engulfed capitalism. The state apparatus had greater and greater difficulty in maintaining its control in the irreconcilable antagonism between the two classes while the education, press, literature and art of the capitalist class could no longer maintain a hold on the people to the degree they had in the past. These conditions could not possibly abate in any long-term sense. The very process of production, the very restrictions put by the relations of production on the development of the forces of production, dictated that. The crisis must deepen and be all-embracing. The whole ideology, politics and organisation of capitalism were in crisis.

World War II accelerated this whole process. It accelerated the struggle of the workers to resolve the contradiction within the advanced capitalist countries between the socialised process of production and individual private ownership. The victory of liberation and socialism in China, in revolutions in the Eastern European countries resulted in a great acceleration of socialist and independence consciousness throughout the world.

It weakened imperialism as a whole. It led to the peoples of the colonial countries taking up arms in the cause of their liberation. In turn their liberation struggles flowed into the general stream of socialism. It led to vast concessions by the imperialist countries to their erstwhile colonies. New independent countries arose on the basis of the old colonies. It is true that “independence” took various shapes. The imperialists gave only so much independence as they were compelled to give. Nevertheless independence and socialism represented an irresistible historical torrent that was bound to grow.

American imperialism advanced in Europe. It advanced rapidly in Australia. It stretched its tentacles to every part of the world to consolidate its hold where it already had a hold, to take over positions abandoned or shaken under British imperialism, to contain and adapt, if it could, the tide of liberation and revolution in all countries. It became the imperialist gendarme of the world. Under the guise of the Truman doctrine of “containing Communism”, it systematically pursued the imperialist course of world domination.

But U.S. imperialism received a tremendous setback in the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek in China. In a desperate bid to maintain its hold on the Asian mainland and recoup its loss of China it provoked war in Korea in 1950. By 1953, it had been defeated.

On the defeat of French imperialism in Vietnam, U.S. imperialism moved into the “vacuum”. But again U.S. imperialism was defeated.

The decline of U.S. imperialism set in under conditions of deepening general crisis of capitalism. Its ultimate defeat was guaranteed. The very process of imperialist expansion compelled upon the U.S., called into being the forces that spelled its defeat.

As U.S. imperialism declined, the Soviet Union commenced its expansion as an imperialist power. Before that could happen in a socialist country (in which imperial expansion is an impossibility) ideological, political and organisational preparations were required. Just as within capitalism feudal elements remain, so in the Soviet Union’s socialism, elements of capitalism remained – capitalist enterprises, capitalist ideas, small-scale production. In addition, the old overthrown classes retained very strong international connections. In the very process of building socialism, new capitalist elements arose from the higher paid and new corrupt elements. There was a material basis for the continuation of capitalist ideas. Khrushchov represented this whole process. He advanced theories to accord with it. His “theories” justified the abandonment of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union. Outside the Soviet Union his “theories” provided a guarantee that the people who accepted them would not participate in any movement to overthrow the state apparatus that maintained and safeguarded the monopoly capitalists. These “theories” talked about “peaceful” change to socialism, provided for “reconciliation” of scientific socialism with capitalism, showed how this could be done and provided “theoretical” justification for the expansion of the Soviet Union. For the Soviet Union to expand, it was necessary to paralyse independence and socialist movements in other countries just as it had been similarly necessary for the U.S. or any other imperialism. The imperialisms previous to the Soviet Union had put their emphasis in doing this on coercion, force of arms, but also on “friendship”, “aid” to the given country.

The Soviet Union added a new dimension, it added the terms of scientific socialism themselves.

Particularly after 1961, the Soviet Union expanded rapidly as an imperialist power. By the mid-sixties it was well on its way. U.S. imperialism had its Korea and Vietnam, the Soviet Union had its Czechoslovakia and Angola. Whereas U.S. imperialism was defeated, the Soviet Union was “victorious”

Just as U.S. imperialism had challenged (and defeated) the declining British imperialism, now Soviet imperialism challenged the older and declining U.S. imperialism.

These two were set upon a collision course.

In order to meet the challenge U.S. imperialism “cut its losses” in the places less within its reach, such as South East Asia, without ever completely giving up, but intensified its activities in accessible places such as Australia.

Soviet social-imperialism moved into all areas of the world and moved to oust U.S. imperialism.

In Australia there was vast U.S. imperialist expansion and consolidation to which reference has been made. It affected all aspects of capitalism in Australia.

Then Soviet social-imperialism began to move in Australia. U.S. imperialism strove in every way to hold, consolidate and expand its economic position in Australia and correspondingly its political interference while Soviet social-imperialism pushed in.

Whereas Australia’s independence historically evolved as a struggle against the British colonial autocracy and achieved a considerable measure of success, now the point of the struggle was against the state apparatus of Australia manipulated as it was by the U.S. imperialists and more latterly threatened by the Soviet imperialists.

Just as revisionism, the “theories” of Khrushchov, had paved the way for Soviet expansion, so within Australia those “theories” were intended to paralyse the independence and socialist struggle. Paralysis of that struggle necessarily assisted U.S. imperialism and then Soviet social-imperialism.

The two main enemies of the peoples of the world showed themselves as U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism.

Analysis of the world forces has a critical bearing on the struggle within the given countries and on the world situation as a whole. It has a great bearing on the tasks in Australia.

Analysis shows that there are three strata of countries in the world.

The main force for liberation and independence is the Third World.

The Third World is composed of countries largely situated in Asia (except Japan), Africa and Latin America which do not yet have an advanced industrial base. Terms such as “newly arising”, “emerging”, “Afro-Asian bloc” have been applied to them. China is a Third world country with a socialist economy. All the Third World countries are in the position where economic and social circumstances impel them into revolt against imperialism. They have emerged in one degree or another into independence but in the vast majority of them the imperialists still retain a powerful hold on their economies.

On the other hand are the decisive imperialist powers, U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism. The history of imperialism shows that in its evolution imperialism gives rise to a handful of very big imperialist countries which compete with each other for world domination. There is a continual process of coming into being and passing out of being. That process has resulted today in the emergence of the two superpowers, U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism. These two constitute the First World. They contend with each other for world domination.

Between the Third World and the First World are the secondary powers such as Britain, France, the other West European countries, Japan and countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand etc. All these countries have an advanced capitalist economy. A number of them are imperialist but they have declined so that as imperialist powers they do not seriously challenge U.S. imperialism or Soviet social-imperialism for world domination.

Both Soviet social-imperialism and U.S. imperialism interfere in and bully these countries of the Second World. There is a certain aspect of revolt in these powers against U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism. The European Economic Community is a barrier to Soviet social-imperialist expansion in Europe, it is also a hindrance to the unfettered expansion of U.S. imperialism in Europe.

Within the world and within the given countries it is vital to identify friends and enemies of the people. The position that the ruling circles and governments of these countries take up is of great importance in the struggles of the people.

Therefore to identify U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism as the main enemies of the people is of critical importance. And to see the decline of U.S. imperialism on the one hand and the advance of Soviet social-imperialism on the other in the process of coming into being and passing away, clearly identifies Soviet social-imperialism as the greater menace.

The forces arrayed against them are the peoples of the world. These include the peoples within the USA and within the Soviet Union. And the forces also include to some extent the ruling circles and governments of the Second World.

Hence the peoples must unite all who can be united in the struggle against the superpowers. The most reliable force is the Third World. But the Second World is very important.

Australia is a country of the Second World. The workers, working and other patriotic people want independence. Sections of the capitalists are included. As a nation it does participate in resistance to the super-powers, hesitant and vacillating though that resistance is. Sections of the ruling circles are opposed to Soviet social-imperialism. Fraser is a representative of them. His stand objectively assists the world-wide struggle against Soviet social-imperialism and assists the internal struggle in Australia against it. At the same time his subservience to U.S. imperialism damages the cause of Australia’s independence. Hence he must be supported in his opposition to Soviet social-imperialism and opposed in his support for U.S. imperialism.