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Responding to Red-Baiting on Marxism

A common argument on the Left is that ‘Socialism’ is not ‘Communism’ ; and this is intended to ‘deflect’ associations with Stalinist big ‘C’ Communism as it was known in the former USSR and Eastern Bloc.

Indeed, socialism is not ‘Communism with a big ‘C” – in the Stalinist sense: with unending Terror and Cult of Personality. In the authentic Marxist sense socialism refers to a stage of economic development under which ownership of the means of production was progressively centralised under the state ; and with ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’ whereby the democratic working class majority had exercised state power. This is the ‘first stage’ of communism. (also known as ‘socialism’) And thereafter – with abundance and the end of social antagonisms – ‘the state withers away’. This is ‘the higher stage of communism’. There are many (non-Marxist) definitions of socialism as well.

Many people – including self-identifying Marxists – also argue for a ‘democratic mixed economy’ including a mix of markets and planning ; and of public, co-operative and other collective ownership. And this is also seen as a kind of socialism. (even if not strictly conforming to the original Marxist definition) These people can still sympathise with the goal of ‘the higher stage of communism’ ; but many (the author included) have come to seriously doubt the likelihood of its being realised.

But many of those who actually have a grasp of Marxism (most people don’t) know there’s nothing wrong with his notion of communism in theory. As opposed to stifling oppression, Marx’s notion of ‘communism’ envisaged a world of plenty; of cultural and social opportunity ; governed by the principle of ‘from each according to ability, to each according to need’ ; and where humanity transcended past conflicts: where again, as opposed to becoming ‘all encompassing’ – the state (in Marx’s words) ‘withered away’.

But remember also that communism in the Marxist sense was deemed by Marxists themselves as impossible without the prerequisite of economic Abundance – with the development of the means of production first by workers under capitalism, and then furthered under socialism.

The Bolsheviks attempted a Revolution in Russia before the economic development had reached the level many other Marxists had seen as a prerequisite. In name they were pursuing communism – but the system they implemented certainly was not communist in Marx’s sense.

Many Marxists understood the risks. Effectively, the Russian Revolution could get stuck in a particularly repressive variation from ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’. Many interpret that as meaning ‘dictatorship’ in the literal sense. But in the authentic Marxist sense it was to be understood as a manner of applying democracy ; ie: the democratic rule of the working class majority. (But where the revolution’s class enemies were contained or suppressed where necessary; though some Marxists such as Karl Kautsky also ended up insisting on a regime of universal liberal rights).

But the Bolsheviks attempted a Revolution in an industrially-backward nation ; dependant on an alliance of workers and peasants. That is why a lot of Marxists thought the Bolsheviks went too far – attempting to overcome their disadvantages through sheer voluntarist will and strategy. What we ended up with was centralisation and Terror. And decades of forced industrialisation: a ‘forced march’ to achieve the economic preconditions of socialism. In the process, Terror, Cult-of-Personality and over-centralisation saw the corruption of the Revolution and the onset of what came to be known as ‘Stalinism’. This was not ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’ in Marx’s true sense ; though certainly it was a kind of dictatorship. Most critics of Marxism do not understand the difference.

On the other hand ; some critics of Bolshevism such as Rosa Luxemburg did not condemn the Bolsheviks for trying. For Luxemburg specifically her criticism centred on the issue of workers’ liberties and workers’ democracy. But by contrast, Left-Menshevist, Julius Martov also insisted on ‘mass democracy’ as opposed to ultra-centralism ; and questioned the Bolshevist path to power. For Martov Russia’s semi-feudal conditions were not a sufficient base on which to build socialism. And this was bound to result in complications later down the track. Economic development had to come first ; though in the interim he supported an alliance of socialist parties.

Importantly: ‘Abundance’ itself has also proven in some senses relative ; and ‘coercive laws of competition’ (a concept found in Capital Vol I) can be applied to states arguably as well as to businesses. Practically this means that both businesses and states need to promote competitiveness in order to survive. This also makes (the higher stage of) communism in Marx’s sense a difficult prospect. And it makes socialism in the strict Marxist sense a difficult prospect for the same reasons (coercive laws of competition). Hence we need internationalism in theory and practice – and to reject arguments on globalisation to the effect that ‘everything is hopeless’.

There’s also the concern that class struggle is not the sole source of conflict ; hence the state may never ‘wither away’. Maoism in China saw the peasants as having the leading role. Only in the past couple of decades or so the Chinese have attempted to emulate capitalist development in order to modernise. And in terms of the scale of their economic development they have succeeded remarkably. But there’s the risk that their capitalists will one day become an effective ruling class. And then the last remnants of Chinese Communism would be over. There’s no reason to suppose that would necessarily involve ‘democratisation’ either.

On the other hand Swedish Socialism was not clearly Marxist. Theorists like Walter Korpi wrote of a ‘democratic class struggle’. Marxism held significant influence. But key socialist theorists like Ernst Wigforss did not identify as Marxist and had original ideas distinct from those provided by the broad Marxist framework. Though fear of Bolshevism had helped to press the Swedish monarchy into supporting the Suffrage (as with many other countries).

The rise of a ‘Communism’ clearly distinct from social democracy had originally began in 1914 with the formation of Communist parties in response to the World War (and the failure of most social democrats to effectively oppose it). This was a watershed moment. The ‘Twenty-One Conditions’ (1920) of the Third International (developed after the 1917 Russian Revolution) imposed a single organisational and ideological framework for all Communist Parties ; that is, of Vanguard Parties in the Leninist sense (parties of ‘the advanced working class’). And in the process this ruled out flexibility and adaptation to local circumstance.

The author’s personal sympathies are with the ‘Left Social Democrats’ – such as the Austro-Marxists. Who were definitely Marxistsand definitely not Bolsheviks or Stalinists. The key point here is that the Schism was not entirely ‘against Marxism’ ; it was also to various degrees ‘within Marxism’. In this sense there is not necessarily any logical contradiction between communism in the strict Marxist sense – and Revolutionary Social Democracy. Importantly therefore, the Bolsheviks could never claim a monopoly on Marxist thought. Marxists retained crucial influence on the Left of Social Democratic parties. In some cases (eg: Austria during the inter-war period) Marxism remained the dominant outlook.

Again: the word ‘Communism’ is deployed widely to scare people ; and many socialists (even Marxist-influenced) will not enter into any debate concerning it for fear of the impact of red-baiting, and association with the ‘once-really-existing Stalinist’ regimes of the 20th Century.

Tactically, social democratic leaders may be advised not to proclaim to the world that they are Communists. And in all honestly, there is doubt that ‘real communism’ as Marx truly intended – is even possible. Or at least certainly not for a very long time into the future.

But if we can’t debate these issues internally even, eventually we will be led to abandon socialism entirely. Kind of like how ‘liberalism became a dirty word’ for a very long time within the United States. That way we find ourselves perpetually on the back foot in response to red-baiting.

But now there’s actually a resurgence of socialism in the US. DSA – Democratic Socialists of America – has been expanding rapidly. Demands are growing for improvement of wages, action on climate change, and for socialised medicine. These are taken for granted in many parts of the world ; but progress on these fronts is remarkable in the American instance. The question is how far this trend can be furthered (and tactical compromises will be necessary) without forsaking substance over the long term.

In the Australian context, there was once a much stronger culture of internal debate around the issue of Democratic Socialism in previous decades – and it didn’t cost the Australian Labor Party elections (say in the 70s and 80s). Though since the 50s split the ALP had been undermined by right-wing Catholic organisations such as the Democratic Labor Party and the National Civic Council. Those tendencies have now largely redeployed within the Liberal Party (Australia’s party of Conservatism). In the process they have abandoned ‘traditional Catholic centrism’. They have abandoned all pretence to economic social justice in order to cement their place on the Liberal-Conservative Right in the current political milieu. That means internalising neo-liberal thinking on the economy, say as opposed to the premises of Rerum Novarum. (The Roman Catholic Church’s original 19th Century response to capitalism and industrialisation).

Parliamentary parties are always tempted by opportunism. Though it’s true that ALP Leader Herbert Vere ‘Doc’ Evatt did the right thing defending liberties when Liberal Prime Minister, Robert Menzies tried banning the Communist Party in the 1950s. With Evatt championing liberal rights, Menzies lost the associated referendum. Liberal rights in Australia were preserved. Evatt’s principles may have cost parliamentary votes ; but who of any principle would say that he did the wrong thing? Though he did not win a Parliamentary election as Leader, he will always be remembered for his stand.

Right-wing public intellectuals like Jordan Peterson are alarmed by arguments that ‘Real communism has never really been tried.’ Although the achievements for a while of kibbutzim in Israel give some idea what might be possible. If you used Kibbutzim as an example I don’t think many people would be shocked.

And it’s possible to establish that you’re influenced by Marxism without saying you’re a Stalinist, a Bolshevik, a Maoist, or even a Trotskyist. A mainstream Australian economist like John Quiggin is clear that he’s influenced by Marxism – though he’s not a revolutionary.

Personally, I sometimes call myself a Left Social Democrat. And that’s completely sincere as I’ve already explained earlier. The terms ‘revolutionary social democrat’ and ‘democratic socialist’ also sincerely apply.

On the Left we cannot (and should not) airbrush history because that’s more politically opportune. But neither can our leadership always ‘put on their most radical faces’ when contesting elections. Still: here among the grassroots I think we have more freedom. We should use it. It may well bear fruit into the future ; so we are intellectually prepared in the event of future crises. And that is only a matter of time.

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  1. guest

    Janet Albrechtsen is today (20/3/19) trying to manipulate the political scene with her article “Why we need Shorten in The Lodge. No, seriously”.

    She says Labor is a shoe-in at the next election but everyone is “complacent” and we all need a wake-up call which she is offering here. She warns that “none of Shorten’s old-style policies have made Labor any less popular. Which is saying something given that Shorten is about as popular as a close shave in a hipster cafe”.

    The ad hominem attack is part of the Coalition propaganda program, but ignores the fact the voters do not actually vote Shorten into the prime ministership. And why pick on the metaphor of shaving or not shaving bushy beards. What was she thinking?

    So why is Labor ahead in the polls?

    Albrechtsen also loves to attack other women and she demonstrates that trait here in her attack on Sally McManus “…a lunatic a Left-wing class warrior as we will see in a long time…has a resemblance to a Soviet-style comrade, confecting facts to suit a stream of consciousness about class war, downtrodden workers and fat-cat bosses, repeating empty slogans about ‘evil America’, making claims to boost central power entirely divested from economic impact”.

    Of course she is obliged to attack McManus because Sally has a clear impact on politics in this country. And one of the mantras of the Coalition is this idea that coal will deliver Oz great wealth and will lift the world’s poor out of poverty, but no word about the effects of climate change brought about by human activity such as burning fossil fuels.

    Shorten, McManus and Labor is opposed to the general thrust of Coalition policies and the policies of the IPA to which Albrechtsen is an adherent.

    Albrechtsen claims that a Labor government will fail as economic managers – yet she seems to exhibit her own complacency about the failure demonstrated by the current Coalition government. She seems to think that the “lived experience” of a Labor government will fire the country up against Labor, who will have to “return to sensible policies”, “just what the Liberal Party needs,too, forcing it to reflect on wasteful years in government, factional fights, personality contests…”

    Loaded down with IPA notions, Albrechtsen does not seem to be able to reflect too closely on what a failure of a government the Coalition has been in the last six years. No doubt she hopes for – and predicts – the failure of a Labor government – and even Morrison has spoken of a recession on the horizon – and her idea is that governments of all persuasions will succumb to the Right-wing neo-liberal capitalist economics of the Trump kind (for which she wears a hat) and all will be right with the world business-as-usual.

  2. Dr Tristan Ewins

    Just an addendum to my post ; the question is what SHOULD the Bolsheviks have done? It was right to pull out of the war ; but that also ensured Entente intervention. Maintaining a multi-party socialist democracy makes sense ; but if there’s something we can learn from the Austro-Marxists it’s that they should have consolidated their hold on the State Power earlier on while they had the chance. (Fascists took power in a coup after the Austro-Marxists secured a parliamentary democratic majority in 1934 ; there was a socialist paramilitary – the Schutzbund – but they acted too late ; in any case the old Right should never have been allowed to re-consolidate their hold on the Armed Forces) That does not exclude multi-party, mass democracy. It does mean the Red Army would have comprised the ‘insurance policy’ for the Revolution and to defend the new democracy. There’s also the question how to balance cracking down on deliberate destabilization while maintaining a mass democracy with appropriate liberties. (crucial for Rosa Luxemburg in her critique) A delicate task. The Bolsheviks arguably went too far with centralisation and Terror ; and this became much worse under Stalin.

  3. Alcibiades

    An enjoyable read, thank you. Well written & reasoned as opposed to often dense & undigestable dogma.

    Though ones own admiration for the the Nordic countries approach, ie Norway & Finland, especially Iceland though, less so Denmark, definitely not Sweden (much hidden beneath the surface there) probably colours my objectivity. Though the conscious self recognition of preference, a degree of bias, does compensate/offset somewhat.

    Personally believe there is an argument that can be put that throughout the broad sweep of history, as the pendulum eventually swings too far towards accumulation of extreme wealth & power married to impunity, a reckoning always comes, and so the pendulum swings back, for a time, until the cycle starts over again. Populi can only ever be squeezed & abused so far, then no more … without profound consequences.

    Nicolae Ceaușescu’s unforeseen, almost instantaneous demise overnight springs to mind.

    Though doubt there’s realistically much prospect of ‘socialism’ being ‘permitted’ to occur in the US before my time expires, which you touch upon, without a violent societal upheaval first. (See: COINTELPRO, just for starters). On the other hand the USSR literally disappeared in almost a blink of the eye, universally unforeseen.

  4. Dr Tristan Ewins

    There has to be some hope that collectively ‘we will learn our lesson’ ; and if democratic socialism makes sufficient progress ; the social movements which realise this will not allow such centralisation of wealth and power to rise again.

    Unfortunately the kind of socialism I want is a long way away. Re-establishing the mixed economy is ‘step one’. But while this merely seeks to restore an old consensus – it is widely portrayed as ‘radical’. (because it’s at variance with the direction of neo-liberalism)

    But Rosa Luxemburg was right, also, that socialist parties need to be responsive to grassroots initiative. Groundswells for fundamental change are often not anticipated.

  5. Alcibiades


    An IPA faux idealogue IMV, merely championing her masters. Not much more than an incoherent hodgepodge of ‘code words’ & ‘code phrases’ designed to ‘trigger’ a response from long indoctrinated/ingrained themes amongst ‘the base’.

    Real peoples lived reality, indisputable facts matter not to the IPA fellows & certainly not their masters/donors, the ultimate direct beneficiaries of societal manipulations. IPA = Greed is Good, for the 1%, leftovers for the 10% & crumbs if yer lucky for the rest.

    Better economic managers my arse. And Joe & Betty Bloggs do not give a damn about arguments based on rising GDP, who the fark is this GDP fella whose doing so bloody well ? Not when they struggle to literally survive one week, one month to the next, with insecure employment, insufficient hours, or none at all. Soaring productivity paired with Corporate profits for ~30 years, yet Populi incomes flatlined over the same timeline. (Looking at you, Margaret Thatcher & Ronny Raygun).

    Hence all the BS about lowering the cost of living re electricity prices, whilst ignoring the myriad of critical issues surrounding stable supply, emissions, unreasonable exploited fixed & embedded infrastructure cost burdens.

    Liberals ? Conservatives demanding price fixing, divesture & (big) government built/funded power stations ? Ha!

    Nah, just a rabble willing to do literally anything to keep the snouts in the trough. Disgraceful.

  6. Kronomex

    BLAST! I thought The Red Menace was going to be about The Beetroot only to discover that it’s about the evils of Communism.

    I did, however, enjoy the article. 🙂

  7. Dr Tristan Ewins

    Kronomex Thanks for the Comment: BTW – I see now you’re referring to the movie which the image is based on. (feels stupid because earlier I thought you were talking about the article ; LOL ) 🙂 The 1950s were the height of anti-Communist McCarthyite paranoia.

    By contrast ; the article itself is not about the ‘evils’ of communism ; in fact I argue there’s nothing wrong with communism in theory ; The problem was with the specific circumstances of the Russian Revolution ; and the conditions which would make ‘true communism’ (in Marx’s sense) a difficult prospect for today. But there have been ‘communist experiments’ which – while not exactly reflecting Marx’s model – give some idea of humanity’s potential. For instance: the experience of Kibbutzim in Israel. Though definitely the Revolution was debased under Stalin in a way which had little to do with Marx’s principles, aims and objectives. And it never recovered. Though hypothetically it would have been interesting to see what might have happened had Gorbachev been able to finish his reform agenda.

    Still hoping to get some more debate on the contents of the article.

  8. George Villiers.

    Wasn’t the siege mentality of Bolshevism really something induced firstly by the Czars, then the agony of WW 1 and finally the merciless pressure applied on Russia from the outside from 1917 into the early1920’s (think Churchill, white reaction etc)?

    Little wonder most of the world was vulnerable to Fascism in one hand and Stalinism (fascism?) on the other.

    How much of the (global) mismanagement of the twenties actually derive back to international high finance and imperialist foreign policy?

  9. Kronomex

    The thing is is humans will always find some way to twist the original intent of any mode of thinking, be it democracy, communism, or whatever else you can come up, until the only thing the warped version has in common with the baseline is the name. It’s all about power and control in the end. You only have to look at what Scummo, Il Duttonuci and the rest of the RWNJ’s has done to democracy in the past six years.

  10. Dr Tristan Ewins

    George Villiers ; You’re right that external pressure had a lot to do with it ; and I’ve argued that elsewhere. Probably I should have argued it here as well ; didn’t want to be too repetitive re: my last article ; but it’s a very important point to make. Nonetheless the Russian Revolution went in a similar direction to the French Revolution ; and it ended similarly as well. (re: Stalinism compared with Bonapartism)

  11. Alcibiades

    @Dr Tristan Ewins

    … the social movements which realise this will not allow such centralisation of wealth and power to rise again.

    How ?

    And that there is the rub, as the old saw goes:

    Power corrupts … those who possess it.

    And who are those, unfortunately, who wish to possess it, or at least personally benefit from a mere portion of it ? Far too many ‘overly ambitious’ would be politicians, then those co-opted/corrupted/compromised/coerced by their fellows, regardless of original noble intent. For those who have obtained it, willfully actively corrupting the culture around them, rarely ever surrender it up willingly, no matter the cost (Rhetorical, though.far too often, not).

    In a practical sense, regardless of the theoretical political model, how can this inherent human failing be overcome/prevented, accounted for in advance ? A carefully crafted foresightful Constitution might be a start, yet the ‘system’ can always be manipulated due human scheming & machinations to overturn/rewrite such.

    Have seen & dealt with more corruption, at the coalface, in real life, Federal/State/Institutional/Corporate than one cares for. And corruption from the top, using its power, travels downward & sideways, embrace/comply/submit/look away, or yer done fer …

  12. Dr Tristan Ewins

    Alcibiades ; The only thing that can stop it is the mass-mobilisation of progressive citizens who simply will not allow it any longer. A movement characterised by grassroots initiative. And which will not stand for instances of corruption from the leadership ; for instance privatisation of choice assets at bargain basement prices, and ‘Public Private Partnerships’ which are a license to print money at the public’s expense. The place to start is in the Socialist Left of the ALP. We need to remind ourselves of what we have stood for in the past ; We need to revivify our identity and ideological foundations. Too many people have given in ‘in practice’ in the face of privatisation and neo-liberalism – and will not even fight meaningfully and openly for a mixed economy or advanced welfare state anymore. In fact over the long run we need to be more ambitious ; as a democratic socialist critique of capitalism would suggest. But restoration of a meaningfully mixed economy and advanced welfare state is probably ‘the first step’ ; and excluding any catalytic event could itself take decades. But no more excuses for a culture of ideological self-liquidation and retreat.

  13. Lambert Simnel


    Is it true that at a certain time in history in a certain type of economic mode, a certain type of person will be culturally reproduced and commodified?

    Let’s think also of the sexual division of labor, Marcuse Weber and Tawney and sexual repression and the inability to relate to others. without enough attention to directed to a realisation that society is not altogether rational, that we live in a sort of social anthropological jungle, as our tree-dwelling ancestors did, given whatever interplay between culture and biology is actually in play and the processes of such a phenomenon

    How on earth will change ever happen quickly when social reproduction itself is the problem and not remotely understood enough in our time.

  14. Dr Tristan Ewins

    I read One Dimensional Man and Eros and Civilisation a very long time ago ; but honestly I’ve forgotten most of it. Lambert Simnel ; so you’ll need to explain yourself further for me to respond.

  15. Ibn Al Khatib.

    Dr Ewins, I thank what Lambert is saying is, that conservatism replicates against reason for factors nor fully understand that leave us trapped in a sort of simulacra deteriorating to hierarchical feudalism, that inculcates and valorises power and control even against sweet reason itself.

    It is not just a matter of pitching out the government.

    The values of the dominant system ensure the reproduction of the system even if not large numbers of people subject to it, even the rich and powerful, do not survive or prosper.

    He understands that society has been resistant to change since the Enlightenment, although a number of examples in Scandinavia and elsewhere, including till recently Australia itself have suggested drivers for community and altruism that unfortunately conflict with other elements to do with war and dominance. Australia cooperated internally and with the non-axis world to defeat fascism in the forties of last century, but within parametres many would argue were counter productive to permanence in change because of what people were and what western society was.

  16. Dr Tristan Ewins

    When it comes to indigenous and women’s rights, and acceptance of mulitculturalism – we’ve come a long way – even though by certain reckonings we have a way to go. In light of that I don’t think sustained progress is impossible.

  17. Lambert Simnel

    Yes. Hopefully, time heals all wounds.

    While there is life there is hope. But best not to expect too much too soon, live in hope, die in despair?

    Not in our kids time, or their kids, or their kids after them…

  18. Dr Tristan Ewins

    looking at the progress of indigenous rights: from the vote for indigenous Australians in the 1960s ; to land rights from Keating onward ; And looking at the progress for marriage equality ; No: I don’t rule out significant progress in our lifetimes. Shorten is still moderate in the big picture ; But his platform is in many ways more progressive than under Rudd or Gillard. There is hope. And there is reason to organise and fight.

  19. Dr Tristan Ewins

    I’ve made some changes in response to criticisms. I think the problem was that I was taking ‘socialism’ as referring to ‘the lower stage of communism’ and of ‘communism’ referring specifically to what some called ‘the higher stage of communism’. But I did not specify this. In fact “socialism” was widely considered as referring to ‘the lower stage of communism’. (ie: the transitional phase between capitalism and communism) So technically it’s true that ‘socialism’ is a transitional phase which precedes ‘the higher stage of communism’. At least so far as Marxist theory is concerned.

  20. Lambert Simnel

    Don’t worry, Tris.

    Most of us would give our eye teeth to be able to write stuff like that.

  21. Phil

    All this esoteric babble and analysis about communism and socialism and the referencing Stalin Mao or any other homicidal maniac out of the past, wont change the plight of the working class one iota.

    Unless we are prepared to bleed for the cause nothing will change.

    I was involved in the Patricks dispute in 1998 manning the barricades in Fremantle. I was not one of the workers involved in the dispute but, having been a mariner in a previous life, I thought these are my brothers. It was this dispute that introduced me into the real world of the political machinations of both the major political parties. For my own security, is all I can tell you is, the W.A police had a couple of their ranks dressed up as waterside workers in the crowd of protesters. I actually spotted one I knew, again knowing him from a previous life. I held my voice not wanting to possibly get the officer bashed within an inch of his life, or indeed possibly killed.

    If this was not bad enough, the police who were sent down to the wharf in bus loads, were shouting obscenities at the striking workers. It was made patently clear who they supported, surprise, surprise. They were charging passing motorists for illegally using their horns on the nearby road, as the traffic passed the dispute tooting their horns in support. A fleet of Taxi’s were giving free trips to the lads that were unfortunately arrested returning them to the piquet line after they were bailed. After the three days I was involved in the dispute, Peter Cook the Labor Senator, attended the mass meeting giving us the old spiel more of the old flannel about it would be better to go back to work and let the industrial relations court take its course, blah, blah blah, etc etc etc. Bing the light goes on in my head. These f*ckers all serve the same master.

    The last night of the dispute a semi pulled up on the gate I was manning and a 44 gallon drum of pick handles were kicked off into the hands of the waiting Dockers. This was going to be their last stand. If it was not for the international media that was there taking film of the dispute, this would have no doubt been a blood bath.

    Well the workers relented and look where they are now. No where. This government has carried on where Patricks left off. The union and their jobs have been destroyed.

    The time for the waffle is over. And no I’m not advocating violence for a result. But the working class has to build their own force for change, otherwise these c&%$@ in the Liberal party and the Labor party, are going to keep walking all over us.

  22. Dr Tristan Ewins

    I was at the barricades too (in Melbourne).

  23. Dr Tristan Ewins

    In my opinion, also, the article begins with complex definitions, but gets less complex.

  24. Phil

    Dr Tristan Ewins.

    ‘ I was at the barricades too (in Melbourne). ‘

    I was surprised who did turn up at the barricades. I spoke to a Professor of Mathematics an M.D. and a couple of nurses. It was an eye opener that changed my life forever. Anyone thinking the dissidents are not on a police data bank some where kept with the collusion of the government live in la la land. I have been to the old safe houses in Perth where people met to write their articles and meet each other to discuss politics, this not that long ago. We have a long way to go to change the system. Democracy in the land of the squatters is a myth IMO.

  25. paul walter

    Phil, it’s gone backward since those times. Hard to work out, isn’t it?

  26. Phil

    paul walter
    March 24, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    ‘ Phil, it’s gone backward since those times. Hard to work out, isn’t it? ‘

    Indeed it has. Should I live to be a hundred, I will never understand the working class. You know I always wondered how the Nazi’s got the people to commit the atrocities they committed on other people. The Germans who gave us Beethoven, Bach, etc. etc. A high brow culture, the envy of Europe. And yet they did. Now I know why.

    A good percentage of the people who portray themselves as coming from nuclear families, the children with perfect white teeth, dad kissing mum goodbye as he heads off to his boring job he hates, with mum stood at the oven cooking the Sunday roast are underneath that exterior of respectability, rancid racists and selfish to a fault. They are easier to lead than a thirsty horse to water. Like most of the people on this ere blog, I despair.

  27. paul walter

    Ahhhh yes, that is a fair post. NSW, anyone?

  28. Dr Tristan Ewins

    Bach was Jewish. Without WWI there would not have been any WWII. Without Versailles probably there would have been no Nazi Party. Half of Germany did not vote for Hitler. The Army should never have sworn allegiance and bear a lot of the blame. What we should remember was how WWII was a ‘near run thing’ ; the fascists almost won. Democracy and liberties cannot be taken for granted. Corruption and disillusionment are fertile ground for the far right. When the country is polarised anything can happen.

  29. Lambert Simpleton

    Yes, Dr. Ewins.

    It is hard not to be disillusioned with consent manufacture politics of any era.

  30. Phil.

    Dr Tristan Ewins.

    Bach was Jewish.? I must have missed something here, he was still German. My home town Portsmouth where I was born, still had streets in rubble from WW2 in 1965, the day we left they dug a 500 lb bomb up in our street. . They exploded one in Portsmouth Harbour when I was there in July last year.. Believe it or not there are still buildings boarded up in Grimsby testament to the war. My mother endured the bombing, my father fought in the Sicilian campaign and Normandy. His brother was in Changi, he still had leg ulcers in the 1960’s. My father had electric shock treatment after the war. I grew up in a family that was terrorised by the terrorised. My father served on three different ships he only met or saw the Captain on one of them once. Class in war who would have thunk it? Yes the Germans God fearing killers, on their belts Gott mit uns (“God with us”) The British were still in an Imperialist state of mind when I was a child. Having served in the Navy cadets and firing live bullets at targets at eleven years old. My father and his brother had every reason to hate and my father brought me up teaching me not to hate.

    Yes I know WW2 was a close thing, if Hitler had let his Generals run it, we may have now been speaking German. Of course the Brits as Rommel had waxed lyrically about. Of the British ‘ Lions led by Donkeys.’ I will never forget Parkinson interviewing a British General from the desert campaign. Parkinson asked him ” What was your most memorable experience from the desert campaign General? “This scum bag in his upper class accent said ” Well Parky I’ll never forget my batman bringing me an ice cold bottle of Champers into my tent ” I nearly smashed my own TV.

    I do not believe the Germans didn’t know what was going on in the camps. My mothers brother was there, he liberated some of them. He told me they gloried in what they had done. And looking at modern Germany today and the rancid right wing come back, I believe my uncle. He would have no reason to lie to me.

    Yes you are right it is polarised. Notwithstanding what I said above about hate. I make exceptions. I for one hate conservatives with every fibre of my existence. I hate the working class who live by the sweat of their brow, that vote for them even more.

  31. Dr Tristan Ewins

    hi Phil ; My grandfather on my Mum’s side was also in Changi ; I think he was with the 8th Division 13th AGH and his job was to rescue the wounded on the field of battle. He was shot in the leg and ended wearing a leg iron. He also suffered Beri Beri from starvation in Changi. Mum found it hard not to hate because she saw the legacy of it was with her father’s health every day. And she overheard his conversations with mates about war-time atrocities. (in Changi) Mum worked for Nathan Beller, who was head of the Victorian Board of Jewish Deputies ; and she had many Jewish friends. Mum made sure as a kid that I had a grasp of the horrible things that occurred in WWII ; including the stories of some of her close Jewish friends. Personally I realised that Japan changed radically after WWII. And they paid an enormous price with the firebombing of Tokyo ; as well the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But many of the War Criminals got away with it. Which is wrong.

    My father’s side are German-descended. They were in the Sudetenland during the war and fled when it was occupied. I think most Germans buckled under because that’s how you survived. But it’s also true that a great many supported Hitler enthusiastically. It’s for the current generation of Germans to accept the lesson of history and again reject the far right. Given the history, Germany has a responsibility to reject fascism firmly. Unlike with Japan, a lot of the German war criminals were brought to justice.

  32. Dr Tristan Ewins

    A sad indictment on Hitler that he would have rejected Bach’s legacy on account of his Jewishness ; when he was amongst the most important composers in world history. It’s just that a lot of Jews of German descent would be uncertain of identifying as Germans in any context after the Holocaust.

  33. Phil

    My Grandmother on my fathers side was Jewish her surname was Rayner. They were high rollers in the London fruit and veg markets and the fur trade btw they were not the Rothschild’s far from it. Their family shop in Portsmouth was attacked by English fascists just after the war, who threw dye all over the fur to ruin it. We had on a very small scale, our own Kristallnacht . She married my Grandfather husband number two having lost her first husband at the Somme. I still have some fine trench art, which I haven’t decided to leave to my children or, give to the war museum. My own Grandfather was C of E and his family must have taken his religion for the obvious reasons of the past. What I know about the Jewish religion would fit on the back of a postage stamp. He believe it or not fought in the Boer war he was born in 1878, he was wounded and was discharged in 1902 spending the rest of his life in the merchant navy.

    I asked my old dad RIP did he hate the Germans he said ” No the average Schmuck was doing a job just like we were.” My Grandmother hated the Japs for what they had done to her son. He was 6 stone when he returned to the UK. weighing 16 stone normally. ( The mind boggles). I still have the correspondence between the war office and my grandmother ref his capture/release etc.

    If you haven’t already listen to the great ABC programme approx. 20 years ago it is probably in their archives , ” Australians at War ” It goes into great detail about the treatment of the men not only by the Japanese but, by their own officers. It was news to me, the officers were taking the uniforms off of the most recently captured men so they could have a clean uniform everyday. Wow.

    So I didn’t become a socialist over night. I am a product of my own experiences and the experiences of my family. The latest election in NSW tells me, we are a long way off from change. The Tory’s are ruthless, they will say and do anything to keep power. Shorten had better pull his thumb out of his arse and start showing some Jatz Crackers or we will have shit it. Call me a Marxist, Communist anything else you like, I am proud of it.

    Btw if my bursts are a bit disjointed and the grammar is shit, excuse me, I had surgery on the grey matter and had a mild stoke 2 years ago. Cheers.

  34. Dr Tristan Ewins

    You’re doing fine, Phil. Mum told me we had a relative who served in the Boer War as well. Can’t remember the details though. Both Mum and Dad gone now ; so much I would have liked to have been able to ask them – but too late. Like names and dates on all the old photos which I’ll never have now. I’ve been a socialist since I was 16. Age can lead to wisdom. You come to appreciate how little you actually know. Started off as a Trot ; ended up in the Labor Party but remained a Marxist ; though I’ve questioned some of the ‘core pillars’ of Marxism, though ; for instance philosophical materialism ; Would like to read up on the Marburg School and Herman Cohen. The idea of an ‘ethical Marxism’ which preserves a place for spirituality appeals to me. The question is where you ‘draw the line’ re: whether or not you’re still a Marxist. I’m also interested in ‘Post-Marxism’ ; some of Chantal Mouffe’s stuff is interesting ; read it for my PhD.

    I think it’s looking very good federally. I hope Shorten is assertive upon taking power ; in extending industrial rights ; raising the minimum wage ; reforming taxation and welfare. Maybe establish an elected advisory body for indigenous Australia. I think there’s a ‘trend to the Left’ across the Anglosphere. And unless Shorten backs down it’s looking pretty good. (though as a Leftist I think it should ideally be much better) On the other hand Hawke promised not to privatise – it was in the Platform – and then he did anyway. I hope we get no ‘bad surprises’. But I’m hopeful.

    I’ll look ‘Australians at War’ up. I have a book my Grandma got for me with the same name I think ; newspaper clippings from the war. That’s another thing my Mum and Grandma wanted me to know about since I was a child.

  35. Phil.

    As a child my Grandmother took me to see all the old Pathe News reels. There was a lot of film about the holocaust. I was indoctrinated into politics at about ten. Her reason was obvious. My wife has Dutch parents so long debates were had into the night with her father RIP, about the Boer war and the occupation of Holland by the Germans. His brother had all his front teeth knocked out by a German soldier with a butt of a rifle. It must have been terrible for them.

    My wife visited Holland when her father died, she went to the Ann Frank museum. I would like to visit Europe when my mother passes on. She is ninety and can drink me under the table. My Doctor told me there’s a good chance she will outlive me. As I said I was in the UK last year it was a pilgrimage to the famous cavern where the Beatles started.I joined my son there. The musos in there blew my mind. I sent e. mails to my mates telling them to sell their gear ha ha. I have been a muso for the best part of my life.

    Bob Hawke; was no friend of the working class. IMO. I have read Tom Uren’s biography he hated Hawkes guts. John Pilger’s ” A Secret Country ” was less than glowing about Hawke. I expect the real dirt will come out when he dies. He has a history of suing people as you probably already know. My hero of that era was Don Dunstun In my humble opinion the greatest politician in this country to draw breath. He had open nights at his home in Norwood. I have had the pleasure of attending a bbq there. A great man. I would love to hear him destroy his opponents with his guile and his wit. As you know the establishment hated him, he was one of them. A blue blood. He attended the main police station in the city of Adelaide in the early years, to get a file held on him by the special branch . He threatened to invoke an old law that he could use to call out the troops. He got his file. Before Dunstan, South Australia was run and possibly still could be run by the churches. It was still in the dark ages. I know for a fact the police in S.A. like most states in Oz are just another office of the Liberal party. To maintain as they do they’re independent is an insult to anyone’s intelligence, who has a passing interest in Australia’s history.

    Aboriginals. I was working in the North of South Australia not long after the 1967 census. Before this they were regarded as flora and fauna. To watch old men selling their daughters off to the miners for drink was pitiful. Watching the children going blind from virulent conjunctivitis had to be seen to be believed. When I see the comments from Rednecks and scum like Howard who deny their treatment by us ( not me) I can go fcucking ballistic, at the sheer ignorance. Their history and the truth of our part in it, is becoming clearer, only the fools and rednecks believe the nonsense written by right wing loons.

    Well my good Dr lets hope things improve in the near future. I am in my dotage it matters not for me anymore, but for my children It does Ha ha my children, one of my sons is forty seven. If you are interested and want any copies of any of my war shit I will blank out my surname. This forum being full of us deranged lefties is no doubt kept an eye on from time to time by the man. If they’re reading this one. Let go of it lads you’ll go blind. Cheers.

  36. Dr Tristan Ewins

    Yes I’d be interested in stuff you have on WWII. Interesting story about Don Dunstan. I read Lionel Murphy did the same ; re: he raided ASIO when he was Attorney General flanked by Federal Police and demanded his ASIO file. I’m optimistic about the future re: indigenous rights. I think a Treaty is a matter of time. Mum visited Holland when she was young. She commented that Amsterdam was completely different from Rotterdam (ie: it was modern). Probably because the Nazis bombed the hell out of Rotterdam. I have Tom Uren’s autobiography. But that’s over 25 years since I read it. I believe significant proportions of the police are politically prejudiced. Whenever a mass anti-capitalist or egalitarian movement arises agent provocateurs wreck everything ; and then the mass media expresses its ‘outrage’ and so on.

  37. Phil

    “Yes I’d be interested in stuff you have on WWII. Interesting story about Don Dunstan.”

    No worries I will get it together in a couple of days and send. You will love the post cards and the propaganda the Japanese sent to England to the relatives. They make it sound like a week in Bali. Do you have a safe e. mail ? If so I will leave the surnames on the documents. If you can get my e mail off of AIM that’s fine .If not I will send mine to them in an e .mail and they can forward it on to you. I’m not putting my name up in lights on here. My wife and I visited northern south Australia about ten years ago. All the Aboriginals I knew are long dead and gone. One particular Aboriginal I knew well was named Billy Pepper. He was a star in the first South Australian film corporation movie called the tracker if my memory serves me well it may have been one of Philip Adams movies. Billy was speared for an infraction. (He liked the lady’s) It went septic and he died. I asked a local where he was buried he was shocked I knew him. I was sitting in the main street drinking beer with them. Memories, I should write a book ha ha. They still live the same, the whites still treat them with indifference.

    Cheers Phil.

  38. Phil

    Dr Tristan Ewins
    March 26, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Phil ; Look me up on Facebook.

    Just sent you a friends request. I am Phil Beats. We have mutual friends.

    Will send you some stuff via messenger. Tomorrow or day after.

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