The rise and fall of the great imperialist powers has vitally affected Australia. The initial seizure of Australia from its indigenous people was accomplished by British imperialism British imperialism introduced capitalism into Australia. It developed Australia as a colony which produced raw materials for British industry and was a market for British finished products.
In the decline of British imperialism, U.S. imperialism stepped in and Japanese imperialism took a hand. In the world now, the main feature of imperialism is the contention and struggle between U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism. Australia has now become of interest to the new Soviet imperialism.
This starkly summarises a complicated process. In speaking of the Soviet Union it speaks of it as imperialism. An explanation of that is called for in a booklet the subject matter of which is imperialism in Australia.
The present day Soviet rulers speak of the Soviet Union as a socialist country and they speak of themselves as champions of national liberation. But this is sheer deception. Because the present day Soviet leaders call themselves socialists and rely upon the undoubtedly socialist background of the Soviet Union, it is correct to refer to them as social-imperialists–socialist in words and imperialist in deeds. This too calls for explanation before turning to a more considered treatment of imperialism in Australia.
But a word of initial explanation.
For people who supported and upheld the socialism of the Soviet Union through thick and thin in the twenties, thirties and forties, it is commonly very difficult indeed to realise that the Soviet Union no longer has anything in common with socialism nor with the teachings of Marxism-Leninism, and that this has been the position for the last 20 years or so.
The October Revolution of 1917 did in fact shake the old world to its very foundations. It was truly described as 10 days that shook the world. It realised the aspirations and strivings of all advanced workers. It proved in life the correctness of the theoretical propositions of Marx, Engels and Lenin, Marxism-Leninism. The process of production in Russia had in 1917 already been socialised, that is, the decisive workers were employed in large factories where each worker’s work was dependent upon another worker’s work. No single man made the finished product. The advanced Russian workers were allied to the peasants. The Russian soldiers in large measure were in rebellion against the Tsar and then after February 1917, against the Russian Provisional Government. Under the slogan of “Peace, Bread and Land”, and under the leadership of the Russian Communist Party led by Lenin, Marx’s analysis of capitalist society and its being overthrown by the working class was demonstrated to be correct in the Russian socialist revolution. Marx had said:
As soon as this process of transformation has sufficiently decomposed the old society from top to bottom, as soon as the labourers are turned into proletarians, their means of labour into capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, then the further socialisation of labour and further transformation of the land and other means of production into socially exploited and, therefore, common means of production, as well as the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form. That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the labourer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many labourers. This expropriation is accomplished by the action of the immanent laws of capitalistic production itself, by the centralisation of capital. One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this centralisation, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever extending scale, the co-operative form of the labour process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labour into instruments of labour only usable in common, the economising of all means of production by their use as the means of production of combined, socialised labour, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world market, and this, the international character of the capitalist regime. Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolise all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with and under it. Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.
The October Revolution brilliantly confirmed the accuracy of this statement in its entirety.
In analysing the symptoms for revolution Lenin said:
We shall certainly not be mistaken if we point to the following three main symptoms: 1. When it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule in an unchanged form; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the ’upper classes’, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class which causes fissures, through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. Usually, for a revolution to break out it is not enough for the ’lower classes to refuse’ to live in the old way; it is necessary also that the ’upper classes should be unable’ to live in the old way; 2. When the want and suffering of the oppressed classes have become more acute than usual; 3. When, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who in ’peace time’ quietly allow themselves to be robbed, but who in turbulent times are drawn both by the circumstances of the crisis and by the ’upper classes’ themselves into independent historical action (The Collapse of the Second International 1915).
Commenting on the three symptoms Lenin added: “. . . not every revolutionary situation gives rise to revolution; revolution arises only out of such a situation when, to the abovementioned objective changes, a subjective change is added, namely, the ability of the revolutionary class to carry out revolutionary mass actions strong enough to break (or to undermine) the old government, which never, not even in a period of crisis, ’falls’, if it is not ’dropped’.”
An essential feature for maintaining the gains of revolution according to the Marxist-Leninist analysis is the dictatorship of the proletariat. This dictatorship was described by Lenin thus:
Dictatorship is rule based directly upon force and unrestricted by any laws.
The revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat is rule won and maintained by the use of violence by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, rule that is unrestricted by any laws. (The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky October-November 1918.)
...During every transition from capitalism to socialism, dictatorship is necessary for two main reasons, and along two main channels. First, capitalism cannot be defeated and eradicated without the ruthless suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, who cannot at once be deprived of their wealth, of their advantages of organisation and knowledge, and consequently for a fairly long period will inevitably try to overthrow the hated rule of the poor; second, every great revolution, and a socialist revolution in particular, even if there were no external war, is inconceivable without internal war, i.e. civil war, which is even more devastating than external war, and involves thousands and millions of cases of wavering and desertion from one side to another, implies a state of extreme indefiniteness, lack of equilibrium and chaos.
The October Revolution proved too the virtual inevitability of armed force being used to, and necessary to, accomplish socialism.
To imagine Socialism as though Messrs. Socialists will present it to us on a platter, in a ready made little dress, is not permissible – it will not happen. Not a single question of the class struggle has yet been solved in history except by violence. Violence, when it occurs from the side of the toiling, exploited masses against the exploiters – yes, we are for such violence! And we are not a bit embarrassed by the wails of people, who consciously or unconsciously, stand on the side of the bourgeoisie or are so intimidated, so oppressed by its domination that now, seeing this class struggle of unheard-of-sharpness, they have lost their bearings, begun to weep, forgot all their promises and demand from us the impossible – that we Socialists should attain complete victory without struggle against the exploiters, without crushing their resistance. (Report on the Work of the Council of People’s Commissars, Made to the Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies – January 11, 1918).
Having established socialism, the Soviet people resisted the armed intervention of the imperialist powers (former bitter enemies combined to attack the infant Soviet Union) for some three years.
The Soviet people proceeded to build socialism in a capitalist encirclement, and subject to the continual abuse and sabotage of the capitalists.
The advanced workers in every country of the world defended and supported the Soviet Union. Lenin spoke of this matter when he said: “But at the present moment of history the situation is precisely such that the Russian model reveals to all countries something, and something very essential, of their near and inevitable future. The advanced workers in every land have long understood this; most often they have not so much understood it as grasped it, sensed it, by revolutionary class instinct. (Left-wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder emphasis mainly ours).
In Australia in the twenties many people joined movements of friendship with the Soviet Union, distributed material that showed the great achievements of the Soviet Union, freed as it was from capitalists.
After the death of Lenin in 1924, Stalin took over the leadership of the building of socialism in the Soviet Union. His name became a household word throughout the world, revered or detested according to the class position of the person concerned. The imperialists and those who followed them went into frenzy at the mere mention of Stalin’s name. The workers and oppressed people of the world deeply revered Stalin because he typified the building of socialism in the Soviet Union. The working people of the world grasped this, sensed it by revolutionary instinct.
People like Trotsky concocted all sorts of foul stories about Stalin, lied about their own role in the Soviet revolution and acted as an imperialist detachment within the working class. It was scarcely avoidable in the very difficult circumstances which faced the Soviet Union that its leaders, at the head of whom stood Stalin, would make mistakes. Stalin’s mistakes were not those attributed to him by Trotsky nor Trotsky’s successor Khrushchov. The attack on Stalin by them was not concerned with Stalin’s real mistakes; it was concerned with his fundamental upholding of Marxism-Leninism. Such people as Trotsky and Khrushchov were really attacking the very essence of Marxism-Leninism. And it was that very essence of which the imperialists were so afraid. Stalin was a fearless upholder of that essence.
The first five year plan for the building of socialism in the Soviet Union commenced in 1929. The deepest economic crisis capitalism had ever known engulfed the capitalist world in the early thirties. Production in the main capitalist countries dropped dramatically; armies of unemployed working people arose in the capitalist countries; fascism developed. In the midst of this, the workers and peasants of Soviet Russia went on majestically building socialism. Stalin was able to say at the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1934:
Here are a few figures taken from official data which illustrate the course of the industrial crisis in the period under review.
As you see, this table speaks for itself.
In Australia, the advanced workers hailed these Soviet achievements and their contrast with the misery of capitalism, worked hard to show the vast superiority of socialism in the Soviet Union as against the crisis, chaos and hardship of the capitalist world. For example, the Soviet Union published a famous pictorial magazine entitled “U.S.S.R. in Construction” which graphically showed in photographic form the actual physical process of building socialism. The advanced workers enthusiastically read and distributed this and other magazines.
Throughout all this, the imperialists never for a moment ceased their abuse and sabotage of the Soviet Union. They saw Hitler who took office for the bourgeoisie in Germany in 1933 as leading the shock troops against socialism in the Soviet Union and seizing Russia back for imperialism. The ruling imperialist circles and their agents all over the world sang hymns of hate against the Soviet Union. They collaborated with Hitler throughout the years 1933-39 to assist the German nazis to attack the Soviet Union. The notorious policy of appeasement pursued by Britain and France involved sacrificing Austria and Czechoslovakia to Hitler fascism so that Hitler would attack the Soviet Union. The names of Chamberlain and Daladier are names nowadays filled with shame, and no one really seeks to defend them. But in their day they were the darlings of the imperialists. In Australia, Menzies never achieved the world status of Chamberlain and Daladier but he was identified with their policies. Menzies said:
I thought myself it was a great thing for Germany to have arms. (Sydney Daily Telegraph, December 12, 1938.)
I have a great admiration for the nazi organisation of Germany. There is a case for Germany against Czechoslovakia. We must not destroy Hitlerism, or talk about shooting Hitler. (Hansard, April 22, 1940).
Menzies loved Hitler, hated Stalin and hated socialism in the Soviet Union.
Throughout these hymns of hate and spate of provocations, including much physical violence against the advanced workers and patriotic people, those advanced workers and patriotic people from many walks of life upheld and defended socialism in the Soviet Union.
In the thirties, there was a world-wide movement of many sections of the people, led by the advanced workers, against war and fascism. One aim of this great movement was to quarantine the aggressors, nazi Germany, fascist Italy and militarist Japan. It included the demand for a collective security pact to embrace Britain, France and the Soviet Union against nazi Germany in particular, and against fascist Italy and militarist Japan. The Spanish civil war 1936-1939 saw a trial by nazi Germany and fascist Italy of their aggression: they tested their arms in their intervention in the Spanish Civil War. That war put the fascist Franco into office where he remains to this day. France and Britain left the Spanish people to their fate; the socialist Soviet Union, despite its infancy, alone assisted the Spanish people. In Australia, Menzies and Co., Santamaria and Co., all came out in support of fascism (Menzies compelled the loading of scrap and pig-iron to Japan with threats of and actual fines and gaol against those who refused to load it). The workers and patriotic people demonstrated, raised the slogan of “Boycott Japanese Goods” and worked might and main for a collective security pact between Britain, France and the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union at all times maintained the building of socialism; it maintained a consistent anti-fascist, anti-imperialist war stand, a willingness to enter a collective Security Pact with France and Britain. When Australian workers and patriotic people championed the same cause, demonstrated, for example, against the visit of von Luckner (German spy) to Australia or demonstrated in support of Egon Kisch, the Czech writer who came to Australia in 1934-35 to speak against fascism and against imperialist war, they were fined or gaoled. An atmosphere of hatred for the socialist Soviet Union and for the people of the world permeated the press and other such instruments of Australian capitalism.
The Soviet Union tried repeatedly to reach agreement with Britain and France for collective security. But Britain and France frustrated every move and showed an utter lack of sincerity. Nowadays this is not denied, in fact it is all readily admitted. But at the time, the whole responsibility was put upon Stalin and the Soviet Union. To gain time in the struggle against Hitler and due to the treachery of the British and French imperialists, the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with nazi Germany in August 1939. Now the rage of the imperialists against the Soviet Union knew no bounds. This pact demonstrated the failure of the Chamberlain and Daladier scheme of turning Hitler against the Soviet Union. But they and their press and other propaganda weapons heaped abuse upon Stalin and the Soviet Union and equated Stalin with Hitler. It was just another instance of imperialists turning facts upside down, declaring black was white. Stalin had indeed been the chief opponent of Hitler. Hitler’s Mein Kampf (his blueprint for world domination by imperialist Germany) and his speeches and The Nazi Anti-Comintern Pact leave no doubt whatever that this arch-imperialist agent needed no instinct to help him to hate the Soviet Union and Stalin – he knew beyond any shadow of doubt that Stalin and socialism in the Soviet Union were the deadly enemies of imperialism. Hitler signed the non-aggression pact solely to serve German imperialism.
The ruling circles in Australia attempted to whip up the most violent anti-Soviet hysteria. They persecuted Communists, other advanced workers and patriotic people. Throughout it all the Communists, advanced workers and patriotic people never wavered in their championship of socialism in the Soviet Union nor its political line of anti-fascism, anti-imperialism.
In June 1940, the Australian ruling circles declared illegal the Communist Party of Australia as representative of advanced workers and patriotic people. They intensified their persecution of advanced workers and patriotic people. These ruling circles acquiesced in the phoney war, a period in which the imperialists of Britain and France still tried to come to terms with Hitler so that he would turn his attack upon the Soviet Union. In all this difficult period, the Communists and other advanced workers and patriotic people championed the cause of the Soviet Union. Nor was it possible for the ruling circles to whip up mass hysteria, because people sensed the fraudulent position of the French, British and Australian ruling circles.
On June 22, 1941 Hitler in fact broke his non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union and launched a tremendous offensive against her. Throughout the years, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944 and until May 1945 the socialist Soviet Union not only resisted the nazi offensive (before which much of Western Europe had collapsed overnight) but launched massive counter-offensives which were the fundamental cause of Hitler’s defeat in 1945. In that period, the more realistic imperialists had placed Churchill in the leadership of Britain. At the same time, the U.S. imperialists were determined to destroy their German and Japanese imperialist rivals. For a short time the ruling circles of the so-called Western world cultivated Stalin. Now they showed him and the Soviet Union in a more favourable light. “Uncle Joe” became a term of affection – a term compelled on the ruling class by the common folk of the world.
In Australia, Menzies, true to his imperialist traitor class stand, had predicted the collapse of the Red Army within 6 weeks.
The Soviet army and Soviet people lost approximately 20,000,000 dead in withstanding and defeating Hitler. Some commentators wondered at the strength, the determination, the patriotism of the Soviet people. They spoke of it as something in the Russian nature. If that were so, it scarcely explains the miserable military performance of the Russian Tsars in the 1914 World War nor the revolt of the Russian troops in 1917. The explanation lay in the enormous superiority of socialism over capitalism, the knowledge of the Russian army, workers and peasants that they were fighting for their own country and not for some imperialist Tsar. It lay in the grip of Marxist-Leninist Communist ideas among the Russian people. All this the Communists, advanced workers and other patriotic Australians explained, not in self-satisfaction that they had been proved correct by events, but in calm conclusion from the facts. Now for a brief moment the Communists, other advanced workers and patriotic people were not so persecuted or maligned by the capitalist class. Legality was restored to the Communist Party in Australia in 1942 (in a legal sense in 1943). Help was sought by the imperialists from the Communists, advanced workers and other patriotic people in waging the war. Collective security, for which the Communists and patriotic people had fought, had been forced upon Britain, France and the USA. A huge world-wide united front was built up. In the Pacific, the great people of China were the forefront of the battle against Japan.
Now the ruling circles made all sorts of promises about creating a new world after the war. They promised the workers and working people a new heaven. They spoke highly of their war-time ally, the Soviet Union.
Victory was won. Along with it, the peoples of Eastern Europe won socialism when the rule of their capitalists collapsed.
But the euphoria of imperialist friendship with Stalin and the socialist Soviet Union did not last long. In 1946, Churchill who spoke for the U.S. and British imperialists, made an infamous speech at Fulton, Missouri. He called for an anti-Communist crusade.
The hymn of hate was renewed. Provocations against the Soviet Union, abuse of Stalin abounded. War provocations in Berlin, aggression by the U.S. imperialists in Korea, all showed the reversion to anti-Communism, anti-socialism.
The socialist Soviet Union, under Stalin’s leadership, rebuilt the Soviet Union. Not even the hatred and lies of the imperialists could conceal the Soviet Union’s tremendous achievements. The Soviet people’s great achievements in rebuilding their country could only have been accomplished by a socialist, selfless people. Stalin led and inspired the Soviet people in their socialist rebuilding. The Soviet people rebuilt their country in the midst of an again bitterly hostile provocative world capitalist environment. The notorious cold war period was a period of ever present threat of war against the socialist Soviet Union. The Petrov provocation (1954-55) in Australia against the Soviet Union and against the Australian advanced workers and patriotic people was a product of this cold war.
In this renewed period of hostility to Stalin and the Soviet Union, Australian Communists and other patriots continued to popularise the socialist achievements of the Soviet Union. They propagated the correct view that the Soviet workers and peasants, freed from exploitation, were an invincible force in peace or war. They were a living example to Australian workers, working and patriotic people of what those Australians could do when they themselves had rebelled against capitalist exploitation and built socialism. Still once again despite persecution, abuse, fines, gaol, these Communists, advanced workers and patriots upheld and popularised all the mighty achievements of the Soviet Union. They beat back the provocation around the Soviet traitor Petrov; they beat back the attempt in the Communist Party Dissolution Act of 1950 to declare patriotic workers Soviet agents and traitors, and a host of other provocations. The propaganda and work by Australian Communists, advanced workers and patriots paid a good deal of attention to the achievements of the Soviet Union, not because the Soviet Union would establish socialism in Australia or indeed play any part at all in that. That could only be done by Australians. It was because the Soviet Union was a living example of the correctness of the universal truths of Marxism-Leninism and showed how socialism could be built in a country if those universal truths were correctly integrated with the actual conditions of that country.
The Soviet Union strictly adhered to the Marxist-Leninist principle that socialist revolution could neither be exported nor imported. In Australia, the Petrov Commission proved, if proof were necessary, that the allegation of Moscow interference in Australia and other countries was an absolute fabrication.
It is not too much to say that the Australian Communists, other advanced workers and patriotic people loved the Soviet Union, rejoiced in the great victories of socialism under the leadership of Lenin and then Stalin. How could any socialist or any reasonable human being fail to see the majestic defeat of invasion in 1917-20 by an impoverished and famine-stricken Russian people but fired with the ideal of socialism, nor that same people’s triumphant economic advance when the capitalist world was engulfed in crisis in the thirties, nor that same people’s heroic resistance to and defeat of Hitler’s armies in 1941-1945, nor that same people’s rebuilding from the unprecedented loss of life and property in the post war years? No, it could only be explained by socialism. In the years between 1917 and 1953, to borrow Lenin’s ideas, the advanced workers not so much from understanding as grasping, sensing by revolutionary class instinct “that the Russian model reveals to all (his emphasis) countries something, and something very essential, of their near and inevitable future,” had come to understand far more deeply the international significance of the October Revolution and socialism in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
In 1953 Stalin died.