Communist Party of Australia. 1950

The Party, the Class Enemy and the mass movement

By W. Smith

Published: Communist Review, Number 1, December 1950. pp. 11-16;
Source: Left History Archive.

The present position of the Communist Party is a new and unusual one. The party has been dissolved by law and is an illegal organisation in the eyes of the law. Because of the action taken in the High Court by the party and the unions, the federal government is restrained from taking any action under the Communist Party Dissolution Act other than the seizure of books, documents, etc., until the High Court case is finalised

For practical purposes the Party retains very much the same position as before so far as its organisation, mass connections and mass work are concerned. As the High Court case will take weeks and probably months to decide, this situation could continue for from two to six months.

An analysis of the economic and political situation that existed in Australia in May last, when the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was first introduced, as compared with the economic and political situation today, with the weakening position of the government and the rapid rise in the mass movement, shows that a few more months can bring about the defeat of Menzies and the far-reaching change in favour of the party and the militant, fighting unions.

The policy of aggressive war actions and preparations under the domination of USA imperialism issued by the dominant sections of the capitalist class and their Labour Party servants is having a disastrous effect on the economy of the country. The policy of the warmongers and its economic repercussions is giving rise to a serious crisis in the ranks of the Liberal, Country and Labour Parties.

These parties are all parties of capitalism. They are parties of the betrayal of the independence and national interests of the Australian people to the expansionist war designs of the dollar-hungry millionaires, whose foul hands are tightening their grip on the economic and political life of our country, taking over bases and the command of the armed forces as a result of this betrayal. The Yankee warlords, following their declared policy of “fighting with other hands”, are murdering our brothers and sons in an expansionist war in Korea, and demanding the full regimentation of our resources and manpower for a third world war.

The crisis within these parties reflects the growing crisis of Australian capitalism as part of the general crisis of what remains of the capitalist order on a world scale. It reflects, too, the striving and conflict of the various capitalist groups tearing at each other’s throats for a greater cut of profit in the whirlpool of economic burdens, inflation and the rising mass struggle of the working-class and resentment of the democratic people against this criminal policy.

As the issues become more clear-cut and the economic results of their policy of betrayal, slaughter and plunder hit the backs, hearts and pockets of the people harder, the ability of the leaders of the capitalist parties to manoeuvre, deceive and divide the toilers becomes more limited. After the barefaced betrayal of the working-class on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill even the Labour Party, the mainstay of the capitalist class is deceiving the toilers, is losing some of its value in this role.

Such is the world crisis of capitalism and the power of the forces of peace, Socialism and national independence internationally that the position of Australian capitalism will become worse, the political crisis more profound, and the mass movement more widespread, determined, and, given the correct leadership, more and more political in content and direction.

The Communist Party, which the Liberal, Labour and Country parties conspired against, and joined forces to outlaw, is the only party unaffected by internal crisis. The Communist Party serves no private interests and is devoted only to the interests of the mass of the toilers who want peace, the expansion of democracy and the right to enjoy the fruits of their labour free from exploitation.

This correct position of the Communist Party enables it to to connect up with, influence and lead the rising mass struggle of the working class and democratic people against the policies and parties of national betrayal, for the isolation and defeat of these parties and the salvation of the nation.

The ranks of the Communist Party are undaunted in the face of the difficulties and tests confronting the party because the ruling class and its parties, having lost faith in the stability of their own system and their ability to deceive the masses in the old way, declared unlawful the Communist Party and seek to clampdown on all genuine opposition to their criminal policy.

The Communist Party moves into this new situation confident of the truth and invincibility of its cause and of the willingness of the working class and the democratic Australian people to fight and defeat the warmongers.

The party has decided to use every means that its disposal to fight the validity of the Communist Party Dissolution Act, and not to vacate voluntarily any position that can be useful to the Party and the working class in the course of the struggle.

The party knows that the outcome of the litigation will be determined by the political struggle of the masses outside both the High Court and the Parliaments.

The action in the High Court challenging the validity of the legislation, appeals to the Privy Council, etc., must be seen as only one aspect of the fight against the whole war policy of the monopoly capitalists, and by no means the most important aspect. It must be seen as an aspect of the struggle that will be strengthened by the mass movement and can in turn assist to educate and stimulate the mass movement in accordance with the firmness with which the basic principles at issue are handled by the Communist lawyers and the firmness with which militant union leaders insist that the non-Communist lawyers representing their unions carry out their instructions in the case.

The Court action is useful and necessary to hold up, hamper and restrict the attack on the Party, unions and democratic people and thus enable the mass movement for peace, democracy and higher living standards to continue to develop under more favourable conditions than would be otherwise the case.

The major question for the party is to greatly improve the political propaganda, practical leadership and organisation of the party amongst the masses, which are coming into action in a bigger way than ever before seen in the history of our country.

The chief question remains that of strengthening the movement for peace. Particularly important in this respect is to learn to work still better with all peace lovers to gather signatures to the Ban the Bomb petition and to popularise the decision of the Second World Peace Congress. It is necessary to relate these basic peace propositions concretely to the solution of pressing economic political difficulties of the people, the sharpness of which arises from the aggressive war policy of the dominant groups of the capitalist class and the work of their governments in assisting to pass the economic burdens of war and war preparations onto the people.

It is necessary to devote great attention to the rising struggle of the workers on economic questions, showing how the economic problems of the people are made more profound because the war policy and USA domination place a tremendously increased burden of exploitation on the people. Show the defeat of those circles and their politicians that force a war policy on the people is the very key to the question of the workers getting a greater share of the wealth produced by them than is the case at present.

It is necessary to show that the Communist Party Dissolution Act is aimed at clamping down on the only genuine opposition to capitalism and its criminal policy and destroying the ability of the working class and democratic peoples to organise and fight against war and exploitation; that the defeat of this legislation is of vital importance to all democrats in the struggle for the defeat of Menzies and for improved living standards.

For the Communist Party it is always necessary to present to the working class the basic propositions of Socialism as the alternative to capitalism, and to win thousands of toilers to revolutionary Socialism.

In approaching the problem of leadership of the mass movement, the Communists must do so in full realisation that the mass movement is developing on the basis of the united front below. The crisis in the ranks of the Labour Party and supporters reflects the conflict between the policy of its leadership and the political and economic interests of its supporters. The Communists must set out deliberately to work in all sincerity with ALP members and supporters in the industries, unions and localities on every question of interest in the working class and the people while at the same time maintaining firm but (in so far as the rank-and-file are concerned) friendly criticism of the Labour Party.

The shameful betrayal of the working class on Communist Party Dissolution legislation has had a deep effect on the ALP rank-and-file members and supporters, but it would be foolish to think that this alone will win the mass of the workers away from reformism. Only patient and persistent work for a period can do this. The main thing is united action around the workers’ real interests and towards this end our efforts must be devoted. The Communists must set out consciously to overcome sectarian narrowness, discuss each action and learn how to improve their work in every aspect of the mass movement.

The struggle to obtain the widest possible distribution of both legal and illegal literature, particularly amongst the industrial workers, is of fundamental importance.

Already experience shows that a big and favourable change has taken place amongst the workers in their interest in the Communist Party and their attitude toward the Party. There are opening up great possibilities for recruiting to the Party. Now is the time to go out and courageously recruit to the Party. It is necessary to have a much bigger Party. The militant workers are no more afraid of the difficulties than we are. Go to it and recruit from amongst the activists, while exercising care against police agents and pimps.

A particular problem presented to the party by this new unusual position is to learn to skilfully combine legal and illegal work. To develop the widest political work and practical activity and leadership amongst the masses, while preserving internal organisational secrecy against the spying and activity of the security police.

Of course, everyone, including the security police, knows that the party has prepared for a long time past to ensure that it will be able to carry on irrespective of the conditions imposed on it by the class enemy.

To know that preparations have been made is one thing, but to know by whom, how and where any given our job is being done and thus to be able to deal the blow are entirely different matters.

Because of the ease of the situation and inexperience, there is a danger that comrades engaged in special work will become careless and because of this give away information to the watchful eyes of the security police. The longer the lull lasts, the greater the danger can become if not consistently and consciously guarded against.

Already some aspects of the work of Party leadership have passed over from the legal to the illegal method. This applies to the production of this issue of the “Communist Review”. This also applies to the channels of internal political and organisational direction.

These changes have been made necessary to ensure that the leadership can continue to give direction to the Party and ensure its success in the mass movement.

This situation demands that all organisations and members engaged in the production and channels of distribution of illegal literature and all comrades engaged in the leadership of the channels of direction of the political and organisational work must carefully study all experiences at national, state, district and branch levels in the light of our understanding of the basic theory of conspiratorial (organisational secrecy) work, so as to improve the work and thus ensure the safety of the Party the rapid expansion of its mass work. These comrades have very special responsibilities.

In this situation the utmost initiative and flexibility must be shown by all Party organisations. Don’t write for advice and direction if time is pressing; discuss the problem, work out the plans for action, and go ahead. Analyse each action afterwards in the spirit of criticism and self-criticism, to find out on the basis of experience how to improve the work. What is required is that the party and all its organisations are able to react quickly to each change in the situation and deal heavy blows to the class enemy by concentrating their main endeavours on connecting closer to the mass movement and the problems of its theoretical and political leadership.

Proceeding along those lines, the Communist Party, guided by the theoretical principles of Marxist-Leninism, can move into the new situation confident of its ability to fight a many sided battle to adjust its methods of work to the situation, respond quickly to changes, strengthen its connections with the working-class and its leadership of the mass movement in struggle for peace, democracy and improved living standards, irrespective of the laws and fury of the capitalists and their labour lieutenants.