East Timor and the DSP

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at SPAMstudent.canterbury.ac.nz
Wed Sep 8 17:53:23 MDT 1999

I read Doug Lorimer's letter to a DSP supporter with some amazement.  For
instance, it is difficult to see what the point ois of the long quotations
from 'Socialism and War', since Doug says thre is no precedent for the East
Timor position of the DSP.  And nothing in 'Socialism and War', least of
all in the quotes, serves to justify Marxists calling for imperialist
armies to intervene in other countries.

People like Louis have already dealt well with the problems about
supporting such intervention in terms of the effects it has on the
countries being intervened in.  I agree with all that.  Rather than repeat
it, I'd like to bring up another angle which is also of vital importance to
Marxists - which is class independence.

How does it help educate the Australian working class in who their enemy is
- the Australian ruling class and its government - when Marxists are
blurring this distinction and presenting Australian imperialism in a
favourable light as a progressive force.  And make no mistake, no ordinary
Australian can perceive Australian government intervention as anything
other than a sign that really Aussie imperialism is OK.

'Exceptionalism' is especially strong in countries like Australia and new
Zealand, where we have been dominated by the ideology that our societies
were not really class-divided, like old European ones; that our societies
were not racist, like the US or South Africa; and that our societies and
states are not imperialist.  Not many people in either country believe that
our societies don't have class divisions and aren't racist.  Most
Australians and NZers do, however, still have massive illusions in Aussie
and NZ nationalism and that we are not imperialist nations.

The DSP position is a slippery slope, indeed a full-on downhill slalom, to
Australian nationalism.  It reinforces the idea that the Australian ruling
class and their government *are* different and have a positive role to play
in militarily intervening abroad.

Doug also seems to be several years behjind the play.  He says this demand
will expose the Australian government and its support for the Indonesian
dictatorship, because the Australian government doesn't really want to go
in.  In fact, it is much more likely that Canberra *will* send forces to
East Timor and that they are no longer especially attached to the existing
regime in Djakarta.

Imperialists are quite fickle when it comes to third world dictatorships.
Yesterday's favoured stooge can become this mornings demon, as we have seen
with Noriega, Saddam, Marcos, Boukassa and others in recent times.

The trend of imperialist foreign policy these days is NOT to maintain
yesterday's dictatorships, but to organise transitions to 'democracy'
through disguised imperialist invasions (ie UN interventions), overt
imperialist invasions (US attacks as in Haiti and Somalia etc) and/or World
Bank and IMF pressures.

The DSP is knocking on a (relatively) open door in demanding imperialist
intervention in East Timor.

Philip Ferguson

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