CPA (M-L) responds to misrepresentation by the CPA
Written by: Central Committee, CPA (M-L) on 6 December 2022
The correspondence relates to misrepresentations of policies and practices adopted by our Party in a previous era. By implication, they are also directed at our current policies and practices.
We acknowledge ideological, political and organisational differences between ourselves and the CPA. We have sought to put those to one side, and to work cooperatively with both the CPA and the other party that has the word “Communist” in its name, the ACP.
We will continue to do so. However, we cannot let misrepresentation of our policies and practices go unanswered.
What follows is the email sent to the CPA on November 18, and the outcome that their refusal to reply has made necessary, namely, our correction of the misrepresentation.
To the Communist Party of Australia,
You recently assisted us with our enquiry about copyright on images, for which we thank you. However, we were disappointed to see in your latest Australian Marxist Review references to our Party which are incorrect.
Those statements are in a public document of your Party.
We have written a reply which we hope clarifies what has been said.
We ask that our reply be made public by you in the issue of the Guardian on 5 December 2022. We will publish our letter to you on our website on 6 December thanking you for its publication and expressing our support for continued cooperation between our Parties.
Our letter is attached.
Chairperson, Central Committee
Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
18 November 2022
In the most recent copy of Australian Marxist Review, you republish a 1979 article by the late Alan Miller together with an introduction that refers to the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist).
The introduction alleges that “the CPA (M-L) mechanically applied ideas from the Chinese revolution” that led to support for Australian nationalism, class collaboration and “the subordination of the working class to capital during the accords in the 1980s”.
You also state that the CPA (M-L) adopted “more nationalist positions that led to them supporting the liberal Fraser government at the time.”
Comrades, it is true that we have a difference of opinion over whether the defining characteristic of monopoly capitalism in Australia is that, despite its formal independence, Australia is under the control of US imperialism, or whether it is an imperialist power in its own right.
Our view is the former, as a consequence of which we do seek to exploit contradictions between US imperialism and our rather small and insignificant national bourgeoisie. By national bourgeoisie we are not referring to Gina Rinehart or Twiggy Forrest’s monopolist corporations, which are largely funded by foreign banks. Nor BHP which has long been foreign controlled, like most of the Business Council of Australia member corporations that hold the commanding heights of our economy.
And when Australian-owned businesses are in conflict with the working class, we support the latter as we did in the Dollar Sweets and Mudginberri disputes during those Accord years.
Our view on the national bourgeoisie is not the same as adopting a position of bourgeois nationalism. It expresses the anti-imperialism of the working class which in turn arises from our rejection of capitalism.
You do not offer any examples of our class collaboration and acceptance of the Accords. Or perhaps our class collaboration was on display when our comrades were leading magnificent struggles such as the Ford Broadmeadows strike and the Chrysler Rank and File struggle, or struggles in the construction and other industries. Comrade Norm Gallagher (Federal Secretary of the Builders Labourers Federation and ACTU Executive member) rejected the social democratic concept of “consensus” that underlay the Accords with his speech at the 1983 Economic Summit where he said “I must emphatically reject a consensus that is all one way against wages, and insists on a system that reduces real wages.”
Or maybe our January 1989 denunciation of ACTU leaders Crean and Kelty as being “in bed with the bosses” was class collaboration. We denounced their Accord, Accord Mark II and the two-tier system and called for “independent, militant action on the job (to) force reluctant trade union officials to join the fight.” Denunciation of the Accords runs through all of our publications of that period.
CPA (M-L) members working in unions vigorously denounced and fought against the Accord and the sell-out union leaderships. For this they were threatened with expulsion from their unions by the CPA of that time and the union leaderships pushing the Accord on the working class. Some of our member workers were black-listed and threatened by the CPA leadership of some unions (Carmichael and others) that they would never find work in their industries. These threats would not have emanated if we were “subordinating the working class to capital during the accords in the 1980s”!
We have referred to it as “the CPA of that time” because it was then the party of the Aarons, Taft, Carmichael revisionists who eventually took their anti-Communism to its logical conclusion and disbanded their own party. The forerunners of your present CPA had left in 1971 and set up the Socialist Party of Australia. As we remember it, the SPA was divided over the Accord: Pat Clancy, SPA President and head of the Building Workers Industrial Union supported the Accord. This was one of the reasons he was forced to step down from leadership of the SPA in 1983 and then left the SPA. Others in the SPA, and notably veteran Communist Jack McPhillips, were opposed to the Accord. In 1985, McPhillips published an excellent analysis of the Accord, criticising those like Clancy, who had supported it, and giving qualified support to others, like CPA (M-L) and BLF stalwart John Cummins, who had struggled against it.
You refer to our support of the Fraser government. This is incorrect. We openly acknowledged that Fraser was more opposed to Soviet social-imperialism than Whitlam had been, but we denounced US imperialism’s semi-fascist coup that had brought him to office as in our April 1976 booklet Defeat Fraser’s New Fascism: People’s Alternative. We wrote: “In his international policy, Fraser is opposed to Soviet social-imperialism. In that respect, he is correct. Internally he pursues a fascist policy, the logical continuation of the semi-fascist coup of October, November, December 1975. To this fascism, the people are implacably opposed.”
As for “mechanically applying ideas developed during the Chinese revolution”, our party’s first publication in 1965, E.F. Hill’s Looking Backward, Looking Forward: Revolutionary Socialist Politics against Trade Union and Parliamentary Politics, analysed in detail specifically Australian history and politics, using a Marxist-Leninist lens. Chinese politics are barely mentioned. It was all about what we face here in a totally different context to China or the Soviet Union.
Comrades, it is disappointing to see such careless presentation of our position. Our Parties cooperated in 2017 to issue a joint celebration of the Great October Socialist Revolution, we have shared speakers’ platforms, and indeed, we have just recently sent you an invitation to make a joint Parties’ statement on May Day 2023.
We have always held that so long as our differences are acknowledged, they can be put to one side when our cooperation and unity assist the development of the working class as its own independent political force.
Acknowledgement of differences should not allow for misrepresentation of each other’s views.
Yours in unity
Chairperson, Central Committee,
Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist).
18 November 2022
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