East Timor and the DSP line

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at SPAMqut.edu.au
Sat Sep 11 00:42:39 MDT 1999

The situation here in the pro-East Timor movement remains remarkably fluid.
 There are rallies and meetings and marches happening every other day
throughout Australia. There are two main camps so far.  First there is the
official opposition led by the govt and the media. This has been backed up
by some chruch figures.  The common thread is support for the result of the
referendum  and pressure for Australian Troops to be allowed in.

My reading of the situation here is that a space has been opened.  The
press coverage of the killings is in itself unrelenting and it is working
people up.  You can have spontaneous political conversations with passing
strangers.  Something that has not happened for a very long time.

A left response of a kind is developing.  Remarkably we have sprung back
into existence.  Yesterday I spoke at a rally organized by the Green left
Weekly, Resistance and the DSP.  It was followed by a march to a Federal
Govt building and further speeches.

The link between the official and the nascent left camps is the DSP.  I
admire their work in many ways.  Like it or not they *are* organized
Marxism in Australia.  However as Comrade Proyect has pointed out their
line is absolutely wrong on East Timor.  To call for Australian troops is
to build illusions in Bourgeois states and institutions.  Now Comrade
Proyect's criticisms have hit home.  I have been informed that they have
been discussed at branch level.  I also suspect that Comrade Percy knows he
has made a mistake.  But he is stuck with the wrong line and he will tough
it out. That is what it means to be a leader of a Zinoviest organization.
They will close ranks in public.

It is noticeable though at the rally the call for troops to go in is put by
junior members of the DSP - Resistance comrades.  The leading cadre stay
silent largely on this issue. Though I would not be surprised if when this
post is digested some of them are ordered to carry the line in public.

There is another tension developing around the control of the left wing of
the East Timor movement.  It was sparked off yesterday at the protest.  The
police were there in large numbers to protect the office of Garauda
Airlines and we were all gathered outside. A comrade of mine Bob Carnegie,
an ex-wharfie or rather Seaman and a great Marxist came prepared with eggs
to throw.  The police warned him not to do it.  He went ahead and was
arrested.  An ugly scuffle broke out and DSP went berserk trying to get
control of the rally.

They then issued a call for 'discipline'.  I hate that shit.  When that
word is uttered I smell the sudden stink of Stalinism.  I supported Bob
throwing the egg.  It showed everybody which side the Police were on.
Hundreds are getting chopped to pieces and here in Brisbane you cannot
throw an egg.

It also highlights a gap between myself and the DSP which goes back over 20
years to when they were the SWP.  The absolute truth is that when a
struggle breaks out they automatically move to the right of it.  Every
time. Why that is I do not know.  I used to put it down to the malign
influence of Barnesism.  Myself will always be on the Left.  Once in an
internal SWP document I was described as an 'ultra left lunatic' and I
suppose nothing much has changed.

There is I think some substance to the disagreements. My reading of the
situation is that a space exists for a very little time.  The bourgeoise
have not got their act together.  The script in East Timor has been a
spectacular failure thanks to the brutality and intransigence of the
Indonesian generals.  Their time is up and they resent that deeply.  They
are fighting a rear guard action.  The USA wants a pro-Suharto world where
they can fully exploit Indonesia.  The oligarchy they put in power in 1965
have now to make way so that the international business community can have
a full and free run at the trough. Neo-liberalism is about to hit Indonesia
in a very big way.  It will of course all be packaged as democracy.  But to
repeat the point, the Americans are engineering a change in Indonesia.
Independence for East Timor was somehow part of the democratization package.

But it is not an exact science and things have gone off the rail.  The
Indonesians were supposed to go home but they didn't and now pressure has
to be brought to bear on them.  That explains the media coverage and also
meetings like today where the local bishops spoke.

The liberals have been wheeled out.  But a fluid dynamic has been set in
motion.  For instance as soon as their big meeting in the City Hall was
finished the Left managed to organise a spontaneous rally of over a
thousand people.  We marched through the streets without a permit and the
police wre powerless to stop us.

So my reading of this situation is different from the DSP's.  I think we
should use the space to explain the nature of imperialism to the people who
will now listen.  The DSP however want to send in Imperialist troops.  In
my speeches have consistently referred to the fact that it was Gough
Whitlam, former Labor Prime Minister and saint of the Left who had East
Timor over to Suharto.  I have also referred to the fact that the butchers
of Indonesia have been trained by the Australian army. Another vital point
I try to get across is to make people think of why we are seeing the
killing now and why when the killing was much greater we saw absolutely
nothing in the Australian media.  The point here is that we are being
manipulated by the Australian bourgeoise, and to its shame the DSP with its
call for Australian troops to go in is delivering the growing Left right
into the arms of the bourgeoise.

However all is not lost.  This list has a role to play and the criticisms
of Comrades Proyect and Ferguson have hit home.  It is in the same
comradely spirit that this post is intended.

Yours in solidarity


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