Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Over the Hill and Down the Drain

First Published: Discussion Bulletin #7, October 29, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Recently, the “wise” leader of the Australian revolution Mr. EF Hill (Chairman of the Communist Party of Australia-Marxist-Leninist) spoke in Adelaide at a public meeting on the topic: “Contemporary China and its importance to Australia”. He was invited by the Flinders Branch of the Australia-China Society. Over 100 people attended.

In retrospect two things stuck out about Hill’s talk. First, it was boring and second, he was very much on the defensive.

Mr. Hill claims to be the leader of a revolutionary Party. But his speech completely lacked any revolutionary inspiration or fire. He was the personification of a tired old actor ritualistically repeating his well-worn lines on the stage. But Mr. Hill’s act has been running too long and the audience (most of whom wanted to support him) was eager for a change or at least a variation on the theme. None was forthcoming.

It was not a great surprise that Mr. Hill was back-peddling at such a great rate. The CPA(ML) leadership has tied themselves to the new leadership in China. Since the death of Mao Tsetung and the overthrow of the “Gang of 4” the reversals of China’s revolutionary policies and the speed of capitalist restoration has been breathtaking. Mr. Hill announced that he had recently spent 1 month in China. Naturally, he is aware that at the recent 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China, Vice Chairman Ye Jianying, speaking on behalf of the Party Central Committee, came out openly and attacked the Cultural Revolution (for the full text of Ye Jianying’s speech see Peking Review 40, 1979). To prove their sincerity on this score China’s new leaders have brought back to positions of power virtually all the capitalist roaders who were removed during the Cultural Revolution. Even China’s Khruschev, Liu Shao-chi is rumoured to be back in the good books (though posthumously apparently).

So this puts Mr. Hill, who strongly supported and identified himself with the Cultural Revolution for a 10 year period (1966-76) in a bit of a dither. Any self respecting Maoist regards the Cultural Revolution as a high point in Mao Tsetung Thought. But Mr. Hill is still trying to claim that he supports both Mao and the new leaders in China. To try to achieve this impossible task he was reduced to doublethink and doublespeak and large doses of “These questions are difficult. It is up to the Chinese people to decide”. Many of Mr. Hill’s supporters in the audience who came along looking for some answers left very disappointed. In a word the whole performance was pathetic.

In the long discussion that followed his talk Mr. Hill faced some difficult and embarrassing questions.

The first questioner said he was amazed that Mr. Hill had attacked the Cultural Revolution and contrasted this with Mao’s analysis that the Cultural Revolution was 70% good and 3o% bad and that in the future many more Cultural Revolutions would be necessary. Mr. Hill did not directly answer the question but said that in “On the correct handling of contradictions amongst the people” Mao had said that “in the main the period of turbulent class struggle had come to an end”. So, what Hill tried to get away with was to take a quote out of context, from the 50’s, and say that this applied to the Cultural Revolution period!

The original questioner came back later and pointed out that Mao had explicitly said that there was a real danger of the rightists seizing power but that if they did “they would know no peace”. Hill was then forced to admit that Mao had indeed said these things in the 60’s but now it was “up to the Chinese people to decide”.

Next, Mr. Hill was asked to explain the backflip by the Chinese Communist Party on their attitude to Yugoslavia. In 1962 they had said strongly that Yugoslavia was not a socialist country. But since the death of Mao they have said that Yugoslavia is socialist and. described Tito as a “communist” and “comrade”.

Mr. Hill’s answer to this question was most interesting. He said that in the past the international communist movement had first said that Tito was a communist, then he wasn’t a communist, then he was again etc. Mr. Hill claimed that he had always gone along with this arbitrary chopping and changing even though he knew very little about Yugoslavia anyway!

The questioner then pointed out that Mr. Hill’s attitudes – follow the leader – hadn’t changed much in relation to the present reversals and capitalist restoration in China. This annoyed some of Hill’s supporters in the audience who told the questioner to “Go home”. Scratch a parrot ... and you get some birdshit.

But Mr. Hill should be reminded that he once did swim against the tide. He did side with the revolutionaries in the Sino-Soviet split. He was attacked and vilified by the then other leaders of the CPA for sticking to his guns. This struggle resulted in the formation of the CPA(ML) in the 1960’s. Mr. Hill has not always been a blind follower in international struggles as he now claims he was.

Surely this is proof that this was not the real Mr. Hill on the stage at all but a poor paper mache impersonation. The real Mr. Hill, the one we remember as having the courage to swim against the tide, is probably rotting away in a prison cell in China with the illustrious Gang of 4.

The next questioner asked Mr. Hill abruptly: “What is it that makes you think the dictatorship of the proletariat still exists in China?” Mr. Hill claimed that he had answered this in his talk. If he had then no one had noticed.

Next, Mr. Hill was asked about the reintroduction of sexist advertising techniques in China (as displayed in ’China Pictorial’ 8, 1979). This type of thing was never seen in China in the 10 years following the Cultural Revolution. Didn’t Mr. Hill think it was a great leap backward? Mr. Hill was forced to admit – though unhappily – that he didn’t agree with everything happening in China.

Another questioner commented that Mr. Hill seemed reluctant to definitely commit himself on matters concerning countries overseas and contrasted this with ’Vanguard’ which seemed to make dogmatic and unsubstantiated statements on all sorts of questions.

In general, Mr. Hill’s answers to all the questions were vague and unsatisfactory. Not only to his opponents in the audience, but also his supporters.

We would like to encourage Mr. Hill to speak more at public meetings.