Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

E.F. Hill

Communism and Australia
Reflections and Reminiscences

Chapter Twelve: Relationship between ultimate goals and immediate objectives

The starting point for Communists in determining immediate objectives is how Australian people can achieve the ultimate realisation of Communism. In Australia, the principle of every Australian working to the best of his ability motivated by service to all fellow Australians, would be realised. Such would be the level of production that each Australian could help himself to commodities in accordance with his needs.

It is Communist belief that scientific social analysis shows that that society will develop. Communists affirm that that is their ideal.[1]

It is Australian people who make their own history. At each stage they make history within definite limits. The limits are essentially determined by the method of getting a living. People will come to understand the whole process of Australia’s development and the social laws that govern it and to understand the direction of its change In that understanding lies man’s dynamic will, his capacity to change society.

A long way remains to be travelled to that ideal society in Australia. That is all the more reason to search correctly for the best way and to act in accordance with the social laws which that search reveals. On the assumption that all things are either knowable or will become knowable, it is possible to discover how in general terms the realisation of that objective will work out. It is impossible to invent in advance a blueprint or plan by which it will work out. This is not only because of the complexity of the process, the inter-mix of human wills previously discussed but because except in the preliminary steps, not enough experience has accumulated. With the ever-increasing development of high technology, the need for profound social change is accelerated. In the hands of a few profit-making monopolies, technological change becomes a threat to the people. In the people’s hands, it can become a boon. Given understanding of the social process with the basic changes in the way of getting a living in Australia, Australians can greatly influence the change.

The fragility of Australian capitalism, its dependence upon other countries such as the USA, Japan and Britain where sudden social change may occur, international events, war, economic crisis, make possible extremely rapid change in Australia. Long-term nature of the change has been emphasised to correct errors of the past. Errors flowed from over-emphasis on rapidity of change to socialism. Rapidity of change is desirable and hoped for, but acting on it in face of reality that involved slow change has already been the subject of much comment. It has caused a degree of isolation of Communism and Communists. Emphasis has already been given to the need to be prepared for all eventualities, short-term, when stages are rapidly telescoped and long-term, where painstaking long-term work is required. There is an essential inter-relation between them.

Key sectors of industry in Australia are dominated by multinationals based in foreign countries. This has caused one-sided development of Australia’s economy in the sense that at no stage can Australia be said to have an all-round developed and independent economy. This has had ideological and political consequences. Limitations in the development of a national culture, art and literature partially reflect this. Limitations in political development reflect it. A degree of independence and national sovereignty has developed, but there is interference by the big powers in Australia’s affairs derived from the dominant economic position of those big powers. These big powers exploit the colonial legacy of division into States in Australia. While a comparatively developed Second World country and a part of the Second World system, Australia has some characteristics of the Third World. Under multinational manipulation it is in grave danger of “undevelopment”. Primary production, natural resources exploitation are used to increase its sub-ordination and dependence on the big imperialist powers.

The world is dominated by the superpowers – the USA and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has developed into an imperialist power. Its socialist days are gone. Its socialist revolution failed after 40 years. Each of the superpowers is striving for world domination. The USA is the declining power and the Soviet Union is the advancing power. This is well illustrated in this part of the world where the USA as the dominant power was driven out of Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea, only to be replaced by the Soviet Union. In each country in the world, including Australia, the rivalry between the two superpowers greatly influences internal events.

The USA and the Soviet Union are opposed to socialism. As they strive for world domination, that domination must be against socialism. It is aimed at maintaining capitalism. In Australia, the USA has exerted all its economic, ideological and organisational influence against any form of socialism or any real national independence. Since the Soviet Union is inexorably moving in where the USA is forced to move out, and aims to move in even where the USA is entrenched, it follows that it too envisages a non-socialist Australia. It is opposed to real national independence for Australia. Its aim is to take over where the USA left off. Since it is the stronger power, it follows that unless stopped, it will impose on Australia (and other countries) just as stringent a domination as the USA. This is a global problem that affects all countries.

The nature of imperialism (domination of the world by a few big monopoly-finance-capitalist-imperialist countries) dictates the fiercest competition between the imperialist powers. Hence if the USA wants, and economic necessity compels the want, to stop being outdone by the Soviet Union, then the USA is bound to combat Soviet expansion.

Since the superpowers each aim to preserve and strengthen capitalism and thereby oppose socialism, Australian Communists must ask themselves what to do. To raise socialism as an immediate issue is not only to raise the unattainable but is to introduce a serious divisive note in combating each of the superpowers. The job is to unite as many as possible against the superpowers, both the USA and the Soviet Union, and in the global sense to put the emphasis against the Soviet Union.

It is improbable that Australian socialism could be attained without a complete break from all forms of dependence on imperialism. Preliminary to establishing socialism, breaking from imperialism is essential. This affects the problem of the sections of the population to accomplish the task. Capitalism in Australia has called into being a proportionately large working class. It is this working class which is most directly tied to the factories of the US and other multinationals and monopolies. It is disciplined and organised by the very process of production in these factories. It is the decisive and leading force. But there are also other important sections of the population who suffer by imperialist domination, such as agricultural workers, farmers who are threatened by the ever-encroaching acquisition of land by US multinationals and US invasion of Australian markets overseas, capitalists who are, for example, component manufacturers for multinationals, other black and white working people, intellectuals, and Australians who are simply motivated by patriotism. These sections of Australians already wage struggles that have a common objective. Struggles can develop into more conscious unity for anti-imperialist independence. If too early, they are asked to unite on socialism, there will be divisions. The issue of socialism can be determined after the attainment of anti-imperialist independence.

However in Australia the situation is immediately short of either of those objectives. Attention has been given to the powerfully entrenched position of US multinationals along with which are Japanese and English multinationals and a corresponding political ideology to “justify” it. Objectives both of anti-imperialist independence and then socialism as immediately possible are both unrealistic and divisive.

The imperative is to prevent both the USA and the Soviet Union from further encroaching on Australia’s degree of independence and sovereignty and to frustrate the war plans of each of them. Thus every weapon open to use by imperialist powers must be taken away. One such weapon is the colonial legacy with which Australia is saddled. On this and numerous other questions, many Australians in one way or another are in agreement. There are many struggles on many fronts which directly or indirectly raise these issues. It is the job of Communists to participate fully in them and not to seek to attempt to impose objectives that cannot be realised or are inappropriate. They are not yet struggles with Communist consciousness nor socialist struggles nor anti-imperialist independence struggles. While Communists never forget the long-term objectives of anti-imperialist independence, socialism and Communism, they readily recognise that in existing circumstances, these are long-term objectives. It is their very knowledge of society’s development towards such long-term objectives that dictates sober analysis of each situation that arises and defines immediate demands and struggle. Correct and appropriate Communist work among the people in people’s struggles which are motivated by objectives often far less than the overall Communist objective, is the basic way in which Australian people will come to understand ultimate objectives and correct steps in their realisation. There can be correct Communist participation only if the long-term objectives are kept in mind. If they are kept in mind, then the process of understanding can be assisted as the situation matures. When the situation matures, Communist work should then have been such that Communist leadership has been accepted and is decisive. It is the measure of devotion to the ultimate goal that holds the Communists steadfast in struggles which have no immediate socialist content, in biding their time and accumulating strength as social conditions mature.

Economic and social conditions cannot be subjected to hothouse development. Nor can they be fitted into some textbook description or preconceived pattern or “road to socialism” as of yore. They have their own logic and their own internal development. The job is to find that logic and internal development because by knowing them, social conditions can be developed.

Within the Communist Party, there is a striving to understand this process. Communists do participate in these struggles with their minds well and truly fixed on ultimate Communism, however remote it may be or seem to be Thus even in a seemingly minor struggle, Communist participation is guided by long-term objectives that lie in the ultimate winning by Australian people of anti-imperialist independence, socialism and Communism. The Communist who loses sight of that succumbs to capitalist influences whereas Communism dictates the most complete rupture with the ideas of capitalism. It is only by making that rupture with these ideas, that both long- and short-term objectives can be faithfully served.[2]

But precisely because of those long-term objectives, and knowledge of the scientific principles of social development, the Communist participates most sincerely and most actively in a people’s struggle or activity which may seem to be inconsequential to socialism. No genuine people’s struggle is in fact inconsequential. So the Communist serves them unreservedly, and as far as he can, without arbitrarily imposing demands beyond which the people are not prepared to go. Australian people will be impelled sooner or later to take revolutionary action. Hard, unremitting and seemingly unrewarding Communist work in terms of early realisation of ultimate objectives, is required. It is really the most rewarding work because it is in that way that the historic process of change will be speeded up.

In existing circumstances, the threat of war hangs over Australia (and the world). Australian people are struggling against it. Because of the activities of the USA, that country is seen by some as the only enemy. The fact that people see it in that way simply must be reckoned with. Sober analysis tells the Communist, however, that this is not the whole story. The Soviet Union is the immediate source of world war. (It may well be that the US becomes the immediate source of war.) Therefore on the analysis made here Communists should participate in people’s peace activities even though Communists do not agree with some of the direction. By correct participation, gradually, or if the situation permits, rapidly, changes can be brought about towards understanding the nature of the whole situation.

It is only by seeing the. whole picture, seeing the whole of Communism that the pieces and stages fit in. If only the final objective of Communism is seen then that leads to isolation, defeat and frustration; if only the immediate is seen, that leads to getting nowhere in the ultimate sense. If it is all seen as fitting together, then all eventualities can be can be dealt with.


[1] This ideal arises from their adherence to philosophical and historical materialism. Philosophical and historical materialism affirm that the great division in philosophy is between philosophical materialism and philosophical idealism. The materialists hold that nature is primary and everything can be explained in scientific terms from changes in nature; things that are not known now will come to be known. Society’s development is fundamentally determined by man’s method of getting a living and changes in it (see earlier explanation). Philosophical idealism sees spirit as primary, in the end one or another form of God creation; changes in nature and society are God-created or willed. When Communists speak of an ideal society, they are using the term “ideal” in its ordinary meaning, not in its philosophical meaning.

[2] Marx said: “in developments of such magnitude, twenty years are no more than a day – though later on days may come again in which twenty years are embodied!’ See Lenin: “Karl Marx”, Collected Works, Vol.21, p.75.