Published: The Vanguard, Vol. 13, No. 19, May 27, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Two contributed reports on May Day demonstrations in Sydney and Melbourne featured on this page show how the two lines – the revisionist, counter-revolutionary line and the genuine revolutionary line – emerged clearly. In Sydney the Clancy revisionist clique openly collaborated with the police against anti-imperialist demonstrators. From the slogans it can be readily seen the anti-imperialist revolutionary line reflected the people’s struggle. The revisionists stand directly opposed to mass struggle and go out of their way to try to ridicule it.
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On May 2 this year, over 2,000 people gathered to participate in May Day celebrations in Sydney. A feature of this year’s march was the attendance of many workers employed by the capitalist press.
The anti-imperialist contingent in the march was impressive (although there is always room for improvement). It was led by a line of flags comprising a red flag in the middle, flanked by a Eureka flag on either side. The Eureka flags were flanked by the flag of the Democratic Republic of East Timor on the one hand, and the flag of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam on the other, with two more Eureka flags completing the colourful front line.
From the beginning of the march the “Socialist” (without socialism) Party organisers, who largely controlled the march, attempted to sabotage the militant participation of the anti-imperialists. In characteristic bourgeois fashion, the “S”.P.A. had arranged for police permission for the Sunday march.
The assembled anti-imperialists, chanting “Hey, Hey, SPA, How Many Roubles Did You Get Today?” soon found themselves accosted by police, under “S”.P.A. direction. The “S”.P.A. organisers had set the cops onto the anti-imperialists, saying that these people were not “on the official list” of organisations involved in the march, and thus had no right to march on that day, as they were not covered by the official permit. The cops were taking their orders as to who could and could not participate from the social-imperialist lackey organisers.
In N.S.W. marching without a permit is a more serious matter than in some other parts of Australia. The cops informed the anti-imperialists that, as they were not part of the official march, they were forbidden to march, and would be stopped if they attempted to do so. Out of all the many unofficial contingents which participated in the demonstration, the “S”.P.A. singled out the anti-imperialists. At least they, along with the police, know where the real threat to the respective superpowers which both the “S”.P.A. and the cops serve lies.
The anti-imperialists marched nonetheless. Chanting “U.S. Get Out, Russia Stay Out”, and “Superpowers Go Home”, they demonstrated, carrying banners some of which read “Stop Omega, No U.S. Bases” and “Fight For Australian Independence”.
The various varieties of revisionists were greatly disturbed by the anti-superpower emphasis of the anti-imperialist contingent, angrily waving their fists and making all sorts of threatening noises. Unperturbed, the anti-imperialists marched on.
The official slogan of the march reflects the political degeneracy of the organisers. It read: “Detente Development, Democracy, Disarmament”. Detente does not exist. Development is hampered by the plunder of both superpowers. Democracy is a mockery in the fascist Soviet Union. The word “democracy” was reluctantly accepted by the “S”.P.A., in order to maintain “unity” with the “C’.P.A. In turn the “C’.P.A. used the word “democracy” in a parliamentary sense. And as for “disarmament”, the arms race speaks for itself.
In contrast to the empty claptrap of official slogans and tame-cat “demonstrations”, the anti-imperialists produced militant, anti-superpower posters. Their banners and slogans showed the way forward in the struggle for Australian independence.
May Day activities differ from State to State. Anti-imperialist preparations for May Day will inevitably vary, according to the concrete conditions faced by people in different parts of Australia. Anti-imperialist May Day activity means one thing in Melbourne, another in Sydney, another in Adelaide, and so on.
The common thread connecting all anti-imperialists however is the desire, the will, and the ability to take May Day right out of the hands of the phoneys and mould it into a weapon of militant struggle for anti-imperialist independence from both superpowers.
LONG LIVE MAY DAY!
FIGHT FOR AUSTRALIAN INDEPENDENCE!
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Last year in Melbourne a radical break was made with the traditional “Sunday afternoon picnic” atmosphere of May Day here when an alternate, militant platform was organised, followed by a march on the U.S. consulate.
In 1976 further action was taken to fully restore to May Day its historic militancy as a demonstration of international workers’ solidarity and struggle against imperialism and capitalist exploitation.
The revisionist-dominated “official” May Day committee was strongly challenged this year by Workers and Students for May First Action, a group established to celebrate May Day in the correct way. So frightened were the revisionists and other traitors whose role it is to turn May Day into a meaningless passive “left-wing Anzac Day parade” that they produced a poster with the empty slogan “Unity” on it in an attempt to brand the anti-imperialists as splitters. They failed miserably.
On May 1 a mass leaflet distribution and rally was held in Melbourne’s City Square to mark the real May Day, May 1st. Thousands of broadsheets attacking Fraser’s fascist attacks and condemning superpower contention were distributed. In days prior to this, thousands of working people in car factories, other multi-national factories, tramways depots, the waterfront, etc. were also reached by the same broadsheet. In contrast, the “official” revisionists made no effort to reach the masses. Street theatre was performed, despite police harassment, and was well-received by the people in the city.
The following day the traditional Sunday demonstration saw the number of anti-imperialist patriots present larger than ever. Eureka flags and slogans condemning both superpowers, flourished. The anti-imperialist contingent was by far the largest single section of the march, and the most militant. This could be contrasted with the “S”.P.A. turn-up of about eight or ten people.
Banners read “Out Cur”, “For a People’s Democratic Republic of Australia” ”Car Workers Say: Yanks Out, USSR Stay Out”, “Say No to Superpowers: Out Yanks, No Russian Subversion”, “Stop Fraser’s March to Fascism – Fight for Real People’s Democracy”, “Smash Fascism”, and so on.
The anti-imperialist contingent was led by a truck adorned with the banners “Kick Both Superpowers Out” and “Fight for an Independent and Socialist Australia”. The truck carried a sound system which broadcast patriotic Australian folk-songs and songs of people’s struggle to the people. On the truck was a large model of the Pine Gap base, with a big axe smashing it. A chicken-wire fence around the truck read “CIA Network: No Entry”.
An attempt by a revisionist official of the Metal Workers’ Union who was “directing traffic” to split the truck from the anti-imperialist contingent was brushed aside.
Many different migrant groups participated in the march. National flags were displayed, including the Italian, Greek and Palestinian flags. Many banners and placards condemned Indonesian aggression in East Timor and proclaimed solidarity with Fretilin.
Upon arriving at the Yarra Bank, where the May Day speeches are traditionally given, the revisionists of the “official” platform began preaching, reminding people that they were, after all, the “official platform”, whilst being careful to not even acknowledge the existence of the Independent May Day Platform.
One highly embarrassing event (for the revisionists) occurred when the “official” revisionist greeted the Aboriginal people’s contingent on the march as it came into the rallying area. Much to his surprise his “Aboriginal brothers” took their “valiant struggle” right past his platform and up to the Independent May Day Platform.
On the way to the Yarra Bank the demonstrators chanted various slogans such as “No Yankee Bases: No Russian Bases”, “Superpowers Out” and “Yankee Go Home”.
The revisionists of the “official” platform made absolute fools of themselves. A number of illustrations will suffice:
(1) Following an announcement that fifteen people had been killed by a fascist bomb blast in Rome during May Day celebrations there, the speaker said that this was a prelude to the “important” Italian elections next month in which, he hoped, “a government of the working class will be elected”, i.e. a revisionist “peaceful transition” government.
(2) While the Independent May Day Platform was almost surrounded by uniformed and plainclothes cops, including the “Independent Patrol Group” thugs, there was every reason to believe, through the absence of police, that state power saw no threat in the other platform.
(3) Speakers on the “official” platform pointed out that “cakes”, “ice-cream” etc. were available at various parts of the Yarra Bank, thus adding substance to the claim by militant people that the “official” May Day is a Sunday afternoon picnic. In fact, the revisionist rag Tribune reported Melbourne’s May Day as follows: “A large march with plenty of music and banners”, “a festive air as different groups sold food and played music”. More like a carnival than a May Day march!