New Age for Aussie Imperialism?

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at SPAMstudent.canterbury.ac.nz
Wed Sep 15 16:14:06 MDT 1999



In a day or two's time, it looks as if there will be up to 4,500 Austrlaian
troops in East Timor, and maybe 350 NZ soldiers.

These will constitute Wellington and Canberra's biggest overseas adventure
since Vietnam.  Moreover, since Clinton seems to be saying the US will
provide logistics and so on, but not a big troop detachment, Austrlaia will
be the *main man* in this imperialist force.

This is really quite a coup for Canberra and the Australian ruling class.
It is the first time they have had a shot at some form of 'global'
leadership, although both Australia and New Zealand were given colonies
before (eg Australia had Papua New Guines; NZ had western Samoa, etc).  But
Australia has never before been the *leader* of a multilateral imperialist
army going into a Third World country.

Since it looks like a number of Asian countries will be participating, this
intervention is also a big step forward for Aussie imperialism as a
regional leader.  They will be numero uno in an intervention force which
may also include Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines etc.  The Australian
bourgeoisie must be delighted.

Perhaps someone from the DSP can now explain to the list how the DSP
position - Australian Troops In Now! - has succeeded in 'exposing' the
Australian government as being *unwilling* to intervene and weakened the
power of Aussie imperialism?

For those of us dreary old-fashioned Marxists who think Marxism means being
anti-imperialist, this intervention is a disaster,  It takes us back to the
early 1960s, pre-Vietnam, when imperialists could intervene whenever and
wherever they liked.  It will make future interventions easier than ever,
as the banner under which intervention takes place these days is not the
old gunboat diplomacy of the 1800s and 1900s, but rather the banner of
'humanitarianism', a new-age 'white man's burden'.

The East Timorese don't have much of a future in a country whose social
relations and political rule will be determined by Western imperialist
agencies, and Canberra.  And for those of us on the left in Australia and
NZ, the massive  cross-class and cross-political consensus in favour of
intervention is a sign that independent working class politics has been
dealt another lethal blow and scarcely exists any more.  This intervention
is a defeat, one which the liberal left is largely responsible for
inflicting on us.

Philip Ferguson


















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