(Fwd) East Timor and Aussie lefties

Green Left Parramatta glparramatta at SPAMgreenleft.org.au
Sun Sep 12 13:49:34 MDT 1999

Patrick Bond wrote:
> Norm, Peter and David (any other Oz lurkers), this is
> interesting. A realistic account?
> (DSP is the DemSocialistParty, which publishes the excellent
> Green-Left Weekly, and whose call for intervention in E.T. by troops
> has generated debate)...
> ------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
> Date:          Sat, 11 Sep 1999 16:42:39 +1000
> From:          Gary MacLennan <g.maclennan at qut.edu.au>

Dear friends,

Gary's account to some extent accurately reflects the ferment the crisis
in East Timor has generated in Australia and also the important role
that the Democratic Socialist Party, its allied youth group Resistance
and Action in Solidarity with Indonesia (ASIET) are playing in
mobilising people to demand that action be taken to stop the slaughter
of the East Timorese who voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence.

For many years now the DSP and its members in ASIET have kept the issue
of solidarity with the East Timorese people and the radical section of
the Indonesian democracy movement (especially the Peoples Democratic
Party -- PRD) high on the agenda of left politics in Australia, often to
the derision or lack of interest of the sectarian left.

The DSP has taken the responsibility organisationally for such
solidarity work because Indonesia regionally is vital to Australian
imperialism's aspirations in the region. The DSP decided to ensure that
the maximum solidarity was needed to strengthen the radical and
revolutionary opposition to the military-backed regime, allied and
fostered as it is to the Australian and US ruling classes, within
Indonesia and in those regions struggling for self-determination (East
Timor, West Papua, Aceh).

These years of patient activity played an important part in the large
response to calls for protests. ASIET and the DSP were key to pulling
together the coalitions that organised the mass rallies around Australia
on September 10 and 11 (30,000 in Melbourne, 30,000 in Sydney and
important mobilisations in all capital cities and many regional

Resistance organised a successful national high school student walkout
at very short notice that attracted perhaps 10,000 young people
nationally to rallies on September 10.

ASIET committees are active in every capital and many regional centres.
(Visit the latest Green Left Weekly at http://www.greenleft.org.au for
an extensive roundup of Australian protests and activities).

However, the huge response cannot be explained by good organisation and
patient work by ASIET and other solidarity activists alone. The
outpouring of support for the East Timorese people was fuelled by
outrage at the blatant hypocrisy of the Australian government and the UN
and their continuing refusal to act to save lives and to respect and
implement the result of the referendum.

The sectarian left has howled about the DSP's ``betrayal'' in calling
for an armed force to be sent to East Timor immediately to stop the
slaughter of the independence movement. That this ``sows illusions'' in
imperialism ... blah ... blah...

These armchair (more accurately these days, computer chair) theorists of
world revolution overlook two key points.

1) The Indonesian military and its proxy death squads (militia's) are
systematically exterminating the pro-independence East Timorese NOW. The
existance of the Timorese liberation movement is at stake. The urgency
of situation is that a key component of the revolutionay movement in the
region is in danger of physical annihlation and that could be achieved
in the space of weeks.

The fact that it takes the statements of a small left party in Australia
to raise the sectarian left from its slumber, when the slaughter of key
comrades elicits silence is a sad relection on the state of the
``revolutionary'' left. And even then it is to condemn the DSP's attempt
to mobilise masses of people around demands that can prevent the
Indonesian regime's goal of the extermination of the independence
movement, setting back the Timorese movement another 25 years.

To not call for an immediate UN intervention is to accept the slaughter
as a fait accompli. To campaign against the force is to be complicit
with imperialism's desire to stand back and allow the slaughter to take
its course.

Perhaps South African comrades will see a parralell with the UN role in
the transition from South African rule in Namibia ...?

2) Jakarata, Canberra, Washington's and London's refusal to put a stop
to the slaughter is a continuation of their 45-year support for the
murderous Indonesian regime by western imperialism. To demand that
Western governments put a stop to it, to live up to their
``humanitarian'' rhetoric does not sow illusions in imperialism but
exposes the hypocrisy of it and the fact that imperialism is willing to
allow the East Timorese liberation movement to be crushed.

The refusal and reluctance of the west to act has done more to make the
Australian people question their illusions in ``benign and benolevent''
Australian foreign policy than the approximately 2 million issues of GLW
sold by the DSP since 1991 has ever done.

People are not as dumb as the sectarian left thinks. They can see that
Australian foriegn policy has always backed Indonesia, that Australia
funds and trains the Indonesain army, that Australian governments --
Labor and conservative -- have recognised Indonesia's invasion and
annexation. And that is why it does not want act today.

The fact that demands such as redirecting Australian military aid from
Indonesia to the Falintil resistance fighters are being raised
spontaenously in the movement must tell you something. A space has
opened in Australian politics and it is around this realisation about
the government's vicious betrayal of the Timorese people. Abstract calls
for general strikes and economic sanctions counterposed to immediate
intervention are at best a form of abstention and at worst a diversion
that allows the West to allow the Indonesians to complete their dirty

The DSP sadly is not strong enough to ``sow '' illusions in imperialism
among the Australian people -- the illusions already exist! The question
for socialists in the current situation is how best to undermine those
illusions. I urge all readers to visit the web sites of Green Left
Weekly (http://www.greenleft.org.au), the DSP (http://www.dsp.org.au)
and ASIET (http://www.peg.apc.org/~asiet) and Resistance
(http://www.greenleft.org.au/resistance) and judge for yourself if we
are sowing illusions.

What you will find is that we are mercilessly exposing the real motives
and record of Australian and western imperialism in relation to East
Timor and Indonesia.

Of course, with the sending of a peace force, the job continues.
Obviously, the imperialists will try to impose their own agenda and we
will oppose anything that impacts negativeley upon the East Timorese
liberation movement and people. But two things will have been won: 1)
The liberation movement survives to carry on their work 2) the mass
solidarity movement in Australia is influenced by activists with an
anti-imperialist perspective. We have their ear and we are going to be
talking to them (GLW's are selling like hot cakes -- we sold out of
issue #375 and have doubled the print run of #376)

Much of the rest Gary's post is untrue or wishful thinking. It is true
that young comrades are given the opportunity to lead in the DSP. That's
because we do not have a hidebound ageist hierarchy. We provide lots of
opportunites for Marxist education. Of course, the DSP would b
criticised  as well if the older comrades did all the talking and
leading and the younger comrades all the shit work and acted like

Comrade Alan Bradley dealt with the specifics of the Brisbane rally in a
post to the Marxism List:

> [GMcL]: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.

[AB]: 'The DSP' being the marshals of the rally.  The rally was at risk
becoming a side-tracked into a fight with the cops, and changing from a
rally about East Timor to an ultra-left wankathon.

> [GMcL]: 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.

[AB]: I'm not sure if the 'discipline' thing was DSP.  ISTR it coming
someone else.  Then again, I was at the back of the crowd at the time,
not really paying attention.

Bob was pulling an stunt, quite independently of the several hundred
in the crowd.  I don't object to it, but he was just being a loose
It served no political purpose.

That will do for now, I have a picket to go to.

Comradely regards,


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