Capitalism then in Australia has been introduced by the great imperialisms, particularly British and U.S. imperialism. But of course, Australia developed in its own way. It developed in its own way within an ever changing international environment. Nothing stands still. Everything is in a process of motion. Hence capitalism in Australia, the creation of imperialism, had its own development just as the relative positions of the imperialisms in the world have had their particular development.
As we have seen, imperialism in Australia had a somewhat unusual history. The British imperialists seized Australia and set up their penal and semi-peasant economy in 1788, almost a century before the full development of imperialist exploitation with its export of finance capital and other matters previously discussed. Nor did it exploit the native black people in the conventional form of imperialism. It did something far worse. It set out systematically to exterminate the black people because they got in the way of the vast landholdings which shaped the early capitalist economy in Australia.
But when, towards the end of the nineteenth century, the export of capital occurred on a qualitatively larger scale, when capitalism entered its highest stage of imperialism, then imperialism perforce superimposed on its then previously smaller Australian investments, as for example its Australian railways etc., a decisively larger investment, and thereby called into being a larger working class and a larger section of working people. British imperialism then, by exporting capitalism to Australia, caused a revolt of the black people, the development of a working class and of working people and other patriots, all of whom sought freedom from British imperialism. At the same time, there came into being local bourgeois agents of British imperialism.
An independence movement was highlighted by such events as Eureka (1854), the Maritime series of strikes in the 1890’s and later on, the conscription struggles and general strike in New South Wales in World War I. All this marked a history of revolt from British imperialism. At the same time, local imperialist flunkeys supported the imperialists and wielded the State machine against revolt.
All this was rapidly and deeply accentuated by the advent of U.S. imperialism into Australia, particularly after World War II. The independence movement grew and grows and it involves wider and wider sections of people, at the base of whom are the workers. At the same time it results in even more vicious local flunkeys of imperialism. In addition in each case the direct representatives of British and U.S. imperialisms, equipped with armed forces, intelligence services, governors and ambassadors, played and play their part in resisting independence.
It is not the present purpose to trace this process out. It is sufficient to say that imperialism set up capitalism in Australia. By that very action it also created the gravediggers of imperialism and capitalism in Australia. Those gravediggers are the workers, working and patriotic people.
Events have shown greater and greater imperialist interest in Australia. When it suited the particular imperialism in Australia it spoke of Australia as being poor in natural resources, as for example, Australia’s having no oil. As the search by imperialism for raw materials, fields of exploitation and spheres of influence intensified, and as the competition amongst the imperialists became more desperate, then it was “found” that Australia was indeed rich in natural resources. That discovery created even more competition between the imperialists for Australia as a sphere of influence and a source of raw materials. Thus Australia’s wool, wheat, oil, natural gas, bauxite, iron ore, coal, uranium, etc. etc. all attract the covetous eyes of the imperialists.
Precisely because Australia has not achieved independence and is still enmeshed in the net of financial and diplomatic dependence upon imperialism, it is still the subject of acute struggle among the imperialisms. Particularly at the present time, it moves into the orbit of the present day decisive struggle of imperialism – that between the superpowers, U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism.
In addition to her rich natural resources to feed the industries of the imperialist powers and to her position as a centre of imperialist investment, Australia occupies an important military, naval and air strategic position. This too is of critical importance in the contention and struggle between the superpowers.
It is therefore vital to Australians to understand that Australia is embraced in the desperate struggle for world domination between U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism.