Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Juan Garrido-Salgado

Juan Garrido-Salgado, a former political prisoner in Chile, now lives in my home town of Adelaide. He came with his family to Australia from Chile under the Humanitarian Programme in 1990, fleeing from a regime which burned his poetry and imprisoned him for his political activism. Last year, he attended this city’s annual Writers’ Week Festival, where he heard Robert Fisk talking about his book "The Great War for Civilisation".

The following poem was the result:

Sonnet (Writers’ Week in Adelaide, 2006)

I am sitting in different shadows.
Chairs are the roots of trees,
the white tents a nest of words and creation.
I am listening to the sound and face of vowels.
Names and authors are beings of the image world.
Stories of lands, struggles, deaths,
beauty and ugliness an equal part of the journey.
Foreign sounds are rare birds under native trees.
A kookaburra sings to the wind and the heat of the evening.
Yahia Al-Samawy reads his poem in Arabic:
Leave my country.
The helmet of occupiers can never be a pigeon’s nest
I am listening to the rhythm of hearts next to a tree.
I am listening to Robert Fisk’s flesh,
wounded lines,
Baghdad and Gaza his home,
ancient cities without rivers,
only dried dreams of the oppressors.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

YOUTUBE video on Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

I’ve just come across this great video (above) full of proletarian imagery. Not only is it an interesting video, but the following comments from people who have viewed it on Youtube are worth reading.

It's important that we honour the proletarian past without lapsing into passive nostalgia. The task that we all face is how to remain embedded in the working class whilst striving to continually raise the level of struggle going on around us.

Long live Mao Zedong Thought!

xxfireb0ixx (2 days ago)
this is a great video. The East is Red.. beautiful song
sanvera18 (5 days ago)
Most of this "I know everything bird brains" have not really studied the the true history and struggles of the Great Proletarian Revolution, truly there have been grave mistakes, but this mistakes have been recognized. There was a need at that time to for the Cultural revolution it was a means of cleansing, against the growing number of opportunists in the party. Same as the need for a Second Proletarian Cultural Revolution in modern China.
xgreatking (4 days ago)
I don't really endorse a "Second Proletarian Cultural Revolution", because I don't feel that it is necessary right now. Many people in China have grown more nationalistic, as a result of our economic success as of late. But you're right, the Cultural Revolution did have achieve some of its goals back then.
xgreatking (6 days ago)
(cont) Everyone went through this tough time together, knowing that the Communist Party was doing the best for not only China, but other struggling nations as well. Many 3rd world developing nations at that time were in need of assistance, and China commonly supplied them with foodstuffs and other needs. I do agree with you that Deng Xiaoping brought about the means for modern China, but the successes of the early Communist party also cannot be forgotten.
xgreatking (6 days ago)
If you have ever read about the history of China from 1949 forward, you would know that there was a period of great droughts, and of great famines during the period of the 60s and 70s. My parents, who are from Beijing and Shandong countryside have told me stories about their first-hand experiences, and they say, yes it was a difficult time and sometimes there was nothing to eat but plain rice, but they lived through it together with the nation as a whole.
xgreatking (1 week ago)
Chairman Mao was the one who originally turned China around. Sure, some of his ideas may have turned out bad (Great Leap Forward) and even the Cultural Revolution was not as successful as it is portrayed here, but you cannot deny that his intent was for the advancement of the Chinese people. If it was not for Mao, I doubt China would have seen as much reform as they have in the last 50 is incredible how much China has improved since the founding of the People's Republic.
vickymouf (1 week ago)
Awesome!!! But a little too glowing. Doesn't mention that the GPCR actually failed to get rid of the "Thermidorians", despite its attempts. Did the person who made this actually forget about Deng and the capitalist roaders?
Asguitar (1 week ago)
markma5511 (1 month ago)
this is the best video in youtube.
Lycan87 (1 month ago)
To a New Great Proletarian Revolution!
Vlader75 (3 months ago)
The core force leading our cause is the Chinese Communist Party.The theoretical base guiding our thinking is Marxism-Leninism.(Shouting) Long live the Communist Party!Long live Chairman Mao! Long live the Communist Party!A long, long life!
Xuemangong (4 months ago)
Excellent work. a gigantic experiment such as Cultural Revolution, people still will talk about it 1000 years later
arobotar (5 months ago)
I'm glad someone is finally presenting this perspective -- surely the perspective of the millions and millions of individuals who democratically participated in the Cultural Revolution. Though I do have some reservations with regards to the GPCR, this video rather accurately summarizes the attitude of the time.
MaoTzu (5 months ago)
Long Live Marxism Leninism Mao Tse Tung Thought!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

REDGUM: I Was Only 19

Back in the 1970’s Brian Medlin, Greg O’Hair and others in the Flinders University Philosophy Department created a course in Marxism-Leninism into which a number of anti-war and anti-imperialist activists enrolled.

One of the issues tackled by the course was the applicability of Chairman Mao’s theories on art to the situation in an advanced capitalist nation, albeit one itself oppressed by imperialism.

Out of this came the band Redgum.

The three originators of the band, John Schumann, Mick Atkinson and Verity Truman were all active in the anti-war movement.

I first new Mick when he was at Underdale High, where there was a group of students keen to find out what was happening at my school, where we had established a student underground movement and were bringing out leaflets on a regular basis.

Verity was a very good comrade, and identified with the CPA(M-L) and the Worker-Student Alliance.
Redgum's first album was "If You Don't Fight You Lose". The title was the fighting slogan of the Builders Laborers Federation, the most militant Australian union at the time, led by CPA(M-L) Vice-Chairman Norm Gallagher. The album cover art featured an Aussie battler taking an axe to a US base in the outback (see recent posts on US bases in Australia).
After several very successful albums, John was inspired by discussion with a Vietnam vet to write the song "I Was Only 19", a damning condemnation of the use by the imperialists of Australian youth as cannon fodder in Vietnam. (Access Redgum mp3's and lyrics here.)

It would have been easy to have written something sloganistic in the atmosphere that prevailed amongst anti-imperialists at that time; instead John wrote a piece that expressed the viewpoint of the boys who went off to war, and then suffered afterwards through their exposure to Agent Orange.

The song was a number 1 hit and prompted an enquiry into the effects of Agent Orange on Australian servicemen who had been in Vietnam.

From time to time some right-wing idiot will write to the capitalist press to remind us all that Vietnam vets were spat on by anti-war protesters when they came back from Vietnam.

Personally, I never heard of this happening, although it would be silly to deny that it may have happened on the odd occasion.

The fact remains, though, that the most eloquent plea for understanding the plight of the ordinary soldier came from the ranks of the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement.

Listen and reflect.

Redgum I was only 19

Redgum:I Was Only 19.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bring Hicks Home!

David Hicks is an Australian citizen who has been held at Guantanamo base for five years by the US imperialists.

Hicks was captured by Northern Alliance soldiers in Afghanistan and handed over to the US imperialists.

Hicks was born in a working class satellite suburb just to the north of Adelaide. The suburb was created for the US multinational General Motors and named (to our everlasting national shame) Elizabeth, after the then youthful British monarch.

Hicks had something of a "troubled" youth, as did many of his peers out at Elizabeth.
He left school early, passed through several labouring jobs and several relationships, rode horses at rodeos, became a horse-breaker, has a child by an indigenous woman whose whereabouts are unknown, got a job in a Japanese stable as a horse trainer, converted to Islam, ate rotting chicken to prepare his body for a life of deprivation as a fighter overseas for the fascist wing of Islam, fought for a short while with the Kosovo Liberation Front, trained with the Taliban, and maybe with Al-Quaeda, and is now in solitary confinement in a concentration camp whose location is a flagrant denial of the territorial integrity of socialist Cuba.

Given that he espouses values and lives by beliefs that the average Australian, living somewhere within John Howard’s "mainstream Australia", would find repugnant, it is amazing to see the unfolding of a mass campaign to bring David Hicks home.

The iconic Australian sentiment of the "fair go" is the unifying factor in this campaign. I’ve just watched Ray Martin’s Sunday national TV show, which has added to the clamour for Hick’s release for precisely that reason – he may be a "terrorist", but he’s one of us and he’s not been given a fair go.

Once again the calmly heroic visage of Hick’s US-appointed defence lawyer, Major Michael Mori, was there, telling us Aussies that the US simply wouldn’t allow any of their citizens to be charged before the revamped military commissions because they didn’t protect the rights to which US citizens were entitled. Nor, he said, would the British.

So why was Hicks physically and emotionally rotting in his cell? (Ray Martin had used the services of an identikit artist in Melbourne to draw a haunting picture of Hicks, left, which, according to his Adelaide lawyer, resembled the man he had seen a few weeks ago.)

Self-made millionaire Dick Smith, as iconic an Aussie as you can get for a capitalist, had no doubts. "He’s in Guantanamo because he’s a working class kid from a working class suburb. If he was a politician’s son or from some well-off family, he would have been released from there long ago," he told Martin. Putting some money where his mouth was, Smith then kicked in $60,000 to Hicks’ defence campaign.

From the very first day of his incarceration, Hicks has been something of an oddity at Guantanamo: a white, Anglo-Saxon from one of "our" countries turned Muslim and allegedly an Al-Quaeda trained terrorist.

As a counter to the charge that the US might be persecuting Arabs in its "war on terror", Hicks is worth his weight in gold for US propaganda purposes.

And "How high?" Howard, and "Do nothing" Downer (Australian Prime Monster and Monster for Foreign Affairs respectively) have offered up his scalp to the Empire which has their total loyalty.

They have conceded that Hicks has broken no Australian law, and would have to be set free if brought home. So they endorse the military commissions later ruled to be illegal by the US Supreme Court, and place him at the mercy of the revamped commissions that are described as "in some ways worse than the original" by Mori. They are happy for him to be charged under retrospective legislation, for coerced testimony to be used, for his legal team to be denied access to evidence, and all for the sake of having what former Liberal Party Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser described last week as "a guaranteed verdict of guilty".

At first this sat well with the Australian public, but it’s now wearing very thin.

No one has done more (with the exception, perhaps of Mori), to bring about this change than Hicks’ father, Terry. The grizzled features of this humble, but resolute worker, are a constant reminder of the ordinariness of David Hicks, of the "family next door" that produced an alleged "terrorist". Terry has had himself put in a Guantanamo-like cage on the streets of New York, and has had a film made of his efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan to discover the truth of his son’s circumstances prior to his capture.

Terry has so much sympathy and support that he has been suggested as Australian Father of the Year on several occasions, for doing the right thing by his son, for sticking by him no matter what.

His simple loyalty to a member of his family stands in stark and very public contrast to the Australian Government’s perceived betrayal of one of its citizens.

After five years in Guantanamo, charges have now been tabled against Hicks. Perhaps more worrying than the shortcomings of the revamped military commissions already identified, given the length and circumstances of his imprisonment, is that there is no requirement for Hicks to be of sound enough mind to be able to deal with all the pressures of contesting a case in what is still little more than a kangaroo court.

The US imperialists have refused to allow an independent psychological assessment of Hicks. Howard and Co. cravenly assert that he’s been well-looked after. His lawyer, who recently spent three hours with him, says he has a hollow, sunken look. In a brief statement, Hicks himself says that he is not well.

Hicks may or may not have fought for the clerical fascists of the Taliban. Murderous rabble that they are, they were the legitimate Government of Afghanistan when Hicks is alleged to have entered their service. Had Bush and Co not invaded Afghanistan in support of the Northern Alliance, Hicks would not have become a potential "enemy combatant" of the United States.

The cause of a "fair go" for Hicks is a just one.

The US imperialists and their lickspittle Australian accomplices will not give him a fair trial or a fair go.

Get him out of the concentration camp and bring him home!

Friday, February 16, 2007

For Australian Independence - No More US Bases!

On February 15 2007, Australian Defence Minister Dr Brendan Nelson announced that Australia would host a new US military satellite communications base at Geraldton, in Western Australia.

Various capitalist media spinelessly followed Nelson’s own press report and wrote it up in these terms: "The base will be built at the existing Australian defence facility at Geraldton and will be used by the Americans to monitor regions like the Middle East."

Notice the passivity of the role assigned to the base in this language: it is related to our "defence" and will passively "monitor" various regions. Defining those regions as "like the Middle East" is intended to close the discussion and let us all go to bed safely at night.

But first of all, what is the existing facility at Geraldton?

Here’s Wikipedia’s explanation:

The Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (ADSCS) is located at Kojarena, inland near Geraldton. The ADSCS is part of the US signals intelligence and analysis network ECHELON. The station has four satellite tracking dishes which intercept communications from Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Pakistani regional satellites[1] and international communications satellites (INTELSATs and COMSATs), throughout the Indian Ocean and South-East Asian regions. Staff are drawn from the American National Security Agency and the Australian Defence Signals Directorate, and the site is operated under the UKUSA Agreement.[2]
On 15 February 2007, it was announced that a new US military communications base would be built in Geraldton, after three years of secret negotiations between the US and the Australian Federal Government.[1]

It’s worth following the link to ECHELON, also on Wikipedia, to get a complete picture of how the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are working together like five fingers on the one hand to intercept electronic communications everywhere in the world, and how, when this is not being done for political or military purposes, the U.S. has been able to utilise it for industrial and commercial spying.

So what will the new U.S. base really do?

In an email to Perth’s, Loring Wirbel who studies space intelligence systems in the US, based in Colorado Springs writes: "There's a difference between Pine Gap and Geraldton, in that the US will be using its portion of the base for a largely unclassified (but dangerously first-strike) warfighting voice communications system, MUOS."

There’s also a Wikipedia description of MUOS (Mobile User Objective System) if you want to check it out, but this report, from Aviation Today, puts it into very clear terms.

The deal further enmeshes Australia in the web of its military relationship with United States imperialism.

Visiting fellow at the Australian Defence Force Academy Philip Dorling said that once the base was operating, it would be almost impossible for Australia to be fully neutral or stand back from any war in which the US was involved.Dr Dorling said the base would have direct military significance and would be a military target, similar to the submarine communications base at North West Cape and the joint facility at Pine Gap with its missile early warning system.

"You knock out the ground station and you knock out the system," Dr Dorling said. "Once again the Howard Government is extremely eager to add another strand to Australia's alliance with the US. If the Americans are involved in conflict anywhere in the Indian and Pacific oceans, basically our half of the hemisphere, Australia will be directly involved by providing vital intelligence and communications links."

He said the Geraldton base would be the link through which the United States would control the satellites. "Geraldton is as far west as you can get on the Australian land mass. That means they can put the satellite as far west as possible so that the Middle East, particularly the Persian Gulf, and south Asia will fall within its footprint," Dr Dorling said.

A couple of years ago, then Assistant Secretary of State for the U.S., Rich Armitage, lectured Australians on how they would have to shed blood alongside the U.S. if it went to war with China over Taiwan Province. Armitage cited the Anzus Treaty. However, bases like North West Cape (the Omega navigation system), Pine Gap (see previous post) and Geraldton (MUOS) indicate that Anzus or no Anzus, Australia cannot be neutral in any act of aggression perpetrated by US imperialism

Foreign military bases on Australian soil violate our national independence, undermine our national sovereignty, and violate our territorial integrity.

We must revitalise the Campaign Against Foreign Military Bases in Australia, which was such a strong movement in the early 1970’s and bring new legions of young people into the struggle against imperialism, and for an independent and socialist Australia.

A Letter Worth Reprinting

Two significant events have occurred in the last week or so. Firstly, "How high?" Howard, Prime Monster of Australia, took Barack Obama to task for announcing a withdrawal date from Iraq. Secondly, Australian "Defence" Monster Senator Brendan Nelson announced that we would be hosting a brand new US military base at Geraldton, in Western Australia. More of that later. In the context of these two announcements, the following letter appeared in Adelaide's The News newspaper (Friday Feb 16, 2007). Three cheers for the honesty and guts of people like Edward Cranswick:

Lethal Allies

Strikingly conspicuous by its absence in the argument between US Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama and Mr Howard about Australia’s contribution to the war in Iraq is any mention of Pine Gap, the United States/CIA military base just outside Alice Springs.

In the lead-up to the attack on Iraq, Michael McKinley, a strategic analyst at the Australian National University said: "The Pine Gap contribution is very much more significant than any sending of Australian soldiers."

As a geophysicist and former U.S. government employee, who was found guilty in the Alice Springs Magistrates Court last week for protesting against Pine Gap, I know that Pine Gap is one of the most critical components of the U.S. space-based global war machine and it is Australia’s essential contribution to the war.

Pine Gap is the telemetry/control ground station for an array of U.S. military satellites in the eastern hemisphere that both image targets and guide weapons which destroy those targets. Recent technological and U.S. policy changes have reduced the distance from "sensor to shooter" and Pine Gap is now directly responsible for initiating the selection and destruction of targets.

As Andrew Fowler of the ABC’s Investigative Unit said five days before the attack: "Right now what’s paying off for the Americans is a secret spy base, which has moved the front line in the war against Iraq to Pine Gap."

Hundreds of American nerds sit at computer screens in airconditioned bunkers in the middle of Australia and choose targets to be destroyed – heavily armed Iraqi resistance groups and happy family wedding parties.

This makes them and their Australian allies directly complicit in U.S. war crimes.

This is Mr Howard’s substantive contribution to the war in Iraq, something about which Senator Obama is apparently not yet familiar.

Edward Cranswick