Reply to Phil, Gary, Carrol, Jonathan and others

Owen Jones owen.jones at
Sun Sep 26 05:11:30 MDT 1999

> Phil, Gary, Carrol, Jonathan and others seem to be prepared to fight
> imperialism to the last drop the East Timorese peoples blood! The simple
> plain fact (which you all seem to not want to accept -- please say so if
> you do) is that the East Timorese people did not have the luxury of
> sitting back and pondering like our superrevolutionaries on this list,
> they were being slaughtered in an ambush prepared by Indonesia and its
> western allies!

 Wait a minute, rewind. I believe that the DSP's position on the imperialist
onslaught against Yugoslavia was, like nearly all on the Revolutionary Left
(except some neo-"Trotskyist" group here in Britain), to violently oppose it
(though support for the fascist-leaning KLA was, to say the least,
controversial). You rightly saw through the Imperialism With A Human Face
bullshit, and angrily denounced it on the streets. So I pose this question -
was the DSP in this instance fighting imperialism to the last drop of
Kosovar-Albanian blood? Why did you oppose the imperialist take-over of
Kosovo, and not that of East Timor?

 I can't help but think it was the fact East Timor was on your doorstep,
that this time the UN is involved and not NATO and somehow you see the UN as
a non-imperialist organisation equally representing all nations, to attract
more supporters in Australia who will see you as a "caring" organisation,
and as already has been said to increase your influence with East Timorese

 You freely admit above that the Western powers hold massive responsibility
for the oppression and murder of East Timor. I posted an article from a
British Sunday paper which showed the US leadership was responsible for
directly aiding the militias with their operations up till only a few months
ago. In effect then, you have asked the murderer to save its victims from a
house that it set on fire.

> They appealed to the international solidarity movement to force
> intervention by the UN which had promised it would ensure that the
> result of the referenedum was respected. Had the Australian solidarity
> movement and the DSP -- and tens of thousands of ordinary working people
> -- refused to back their call with all the means at our disposal and
> said ``Righto chaps, we respect your right to call for troops but we
> cannot sully ourselves by supporting your call'', the Indonesian regime
> and military and their western backers would have achieved their goal of
> crushing the East Timorese liberation movement and destroying any chance
> of an independent East Timor this side of 2024.

 Well if the UN promises something then it's got to happen! I really object
to the DSP's constant characterisation of the UN as some form of independent
world governing body. It is the organ of imperialism - without any
exception, every action it takes is in the interests of US imperialism. When
has it ever not been so? Do you really believe, then, that some screaming
and jumping up and down by a small leftist Australian party forced the
colossus world force of US imperialism to come to the aid of East Timor? In
such an age of extreme reaction and the victory of neo-liberal ideas, do you
think that US imperialism was shitting itself at the prospect of the DSP
starting some kind of world revolution unless it liberated East Timor?

 If the DSP had done nothing to demand a Western take-over of East
Timor...then it would have happened anyway. Don't flatter yourself, you hold
absolutely no power over any ruling class on the planet - no Marxist party
in the world does or ever has. I hope you also understand that this is NOW
the end of the East Timorese liberation movement - they will be swiftly
disarmed by the Western armies, not just militarily but also politically.
East Timor will no doubt become to Australia what Cuba became to America.
There will be no independent East Timor - if the armies of imperialist
states have completely occupied it, surely you can recognise that?

 Instead of appealing to the UN and Australian ruling class (who ignored you
- they were going to do exactly what they have done whether you asked for it
or not) perhaps you should have appealed to people who you have influence
over. You have connections with several organisations across Indonesia and
sections of the labour movement, I believe. We know that there is sympathy
for East Timor especially from the students, who bravely fought the police
in Jakarta over it. If you had pushed for action by the students and the
labour movement in Indonesia, and with the Indonesian ruling class in its
present weak state, then who knows, the Indonesian State might have pulled
out like as shot! At the same time, you could have called for the arming of
the liberation movement over there, and mixed this with support for trade
union boycotts.

> Get this through your thick skulls: Counterposing arms cut-offs, trade
> union bans, IMF loan freezes, the end to military aid etc. would not
> have *immediately* stopped the slaughter. It would have given the
> Indonesian military the time it needed to finish its dirty work. In the
> dire emergency the East Timorese movement faced, only an armed force
> could prevent the utter obliteration of the liberation movement. Some on
> this list would say, ``such is life''. The DSP didn't.

 Ah, everyone on this list has thick skulls! Every other significant Marxist
organisation in the world has thick skulls! People like Ted Grant - who has
been struggling since the 1930s and was the leader of the British Marxist
movement - and Alan Woods have thick skulls! Every non-DSP revolutionary
socialist has a thick skull! Trotsky and Lenin - who, as has been proved,
would never in a million years support your stance - have thick skulls! Why
on Earth does only the DSP see sense, and every Marxist outside of your
party not? Does that mean the *overwhelming* majority of Marxists - who
REFUSE to support a Western take-over of East Timor, have thick skulls?

 Do you think that Western imperialism is going to have a policy of peaceful
co-existence with the East Timorese liberation movement? After all these
years of their involvement in its destruction at the hands of the Indonesian
State? I'll tell you what Marxists on this list and elsewhere have done -
opposed imperialism. You're quite right, the DSP didn't. It didn't just
support imperialism, it encouraged it.

> The fact that the trade union bans that were imposed were directly aimed
> at forced the Australian government to support an intervention force
> proves that those who counterposed bans to intervention were in reality
> proposing to do nothing to stop the slaughter.

> That's why those in Australia, led by the International Socialists,
> with people like Gary tagging along--for all the rhetoric expended on
> this list and in other exclusively left forums--refuse to be true to
> their positions and campaign now out in the open for ``UN out of
> Timor''. They know that it is a call for the slaughter to resume. They
> also know nobody will follow them because that is how sensible people
> will interpret the call. But Hell! Get out there and do it if you think
> you are right!

 Oh, so Gary and the others are in the wrong, because the majority of people
do not share their position. How about this for a slap in the face - the
majority of people aren't Marxist, and will probably interpret it in a
completely false and negative light, having been brainwashed by bourgeois
propaganda. Do we stop fighting as Marxists? You've just capitulated to
complete populism, as a tactic to get more support. You don't have the
confidence to bring people over to your views, so you go nearer to their
views instead. You're on a one-way ticket to becoming Social Democrats.

> Did the mobilisation of more than 100,000 people in Australia, in the
> space of a week, outraged at Canberra's 24-year policy of refusing to
> support the East Timor's people's right to independence and demanding
> that it act to support and defend the exercise of that right make it
> easier or harder for Howard to renege on independence for East Timor?
> Does it make it easier or harder for the solidarity movement to mobilise
> those people again when Howard again sides with Indonesia against the
> Timorese?

 I bet he was pleased that so many people were coming out in favour of what
he was planning to do. It's made him more popular, it's spurned your
government on to try and introduce conscription, and already Asian countries
have voiced worry at Australia's plan to use this whole exercise to become
the absolute imperialist force in the region. Your saying that this is a
defeat for the Australian ruling class is just as ridiculous as Milo
spouting on about a Yugoslav victory after the war. The Aussie ruling class
have had a MASSIVE victory - this is the best thing to ever happen to
Australian imperialism. Well done for cheering it on.

> Gary may be right and Australian leftists will have to fight a little
> harder now as Howard attempts to salvage something from seeing his
> government's foreign policy on Indonesia defeated. But is that a too
> high a price to pay for the survival of the revolutionary forces in East
> Timor from extermination and allowing them the space to return to the
> struggle instead of the certainty of having their forces destroyed. Is
> our struggle in Australia weakened or strengthened by the survival of
> the liberation movement in East Timor? I think it strebgthens us. I know
> I am confident that the DSP can whether any little storm (only likely to
> be bit of a willy-willy IMHO) that results.

 Ridiculous! I really cannot see how you can with an ounce of seriousness
think that this is a defeat for the Australian ruling class! Bet Howard is
going to be having a few bottles of bubbly over this. Again, don't be so
naive as to think the UN will allow the liberation movement in East Timor to
survive. True, they won't go round blasting it physically to bits; instead
they will disarm it, and place it under Western domination.

 The DSP has been weakened in that it can no longer be regarded as a
revolutionary organisation dedicated to the overthrow of the Australian
ruling class; it has shown itself to be class-collaborationist and
wholeheartedly supportive of Western imperialism. It has lost its
credibility amongst Marxists all over the world who once regarded them as
comrades, just misguided in some of their ideas. That doesn't mean it is
permanent, it can fix its mistakes in future actions. But if it does this
type of thing again soon, then we can just hope a genuine Marxist
organisation will take the position it once had.

> I suggest comrades put their pointscoring and word games on hold for a
> while and take a look at developments in Indonesia. Has the radical
> democracy movement been weakened by recent developments around East
> Timor? Just Friday, the radical student-led demonstrations, in which the
> Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) played a prominant role, won a terrific
> victory when it forced Habibie to ``postpone'' signing into law
> draconian security laws pushed through parliament at the behest of
> Wiranto.

 I think there is a chance the Indonesian regime could keep itself in power
playing the card of nationalism like the Serb regime, portraying itself as
the protector of the people from a suddenly hostile world; and that as
resentment grows over what has happened, the democracy movement could be
sidelined by a defensive nationalism. (There will without doubt be calls for
"national unity in the face of a threat to the fatherland", or along those

> The defeat of the Indonesian military over East Timor, and the
> undermining of the Australian government's alliance with the military,
> under mass pressure from the people of Australia, has weakened the
> military and made the prospects greater for democratic revolution in
> Indonesia. Will that weaken or strengthen the movement in Australia?

 Here we go again - this time you seem to have put the Indonesian military
in some sort of independent context, instead of seeing it as the arm of the
Indonesian ruling class which enforces its power. There is still an alliance
between the Australian ruling class and sections of the Indonesian ruling
class (remember, it is intensely divided). Your mass pressure merely gave
support for what the imperialists were going to do a longer time ago than
you think in your dream world.

> The DSP and the vast majority of the solidarity movement will continue
> (as we did before and during the emergency campaign) to campaign for an
> end to all military ties with Indonesia, for the recognition of East
> Timor's independence, for the Timorese people to be only ones able to
> determine how long the UN force remains, for all those responsible for
> the crimes against humanity in east Timor -- direct and indirect (this
> include all Australian Prime ministers from Whitlam on) -- to be put on
> trial, and for the Australian government and big business to pay
> reparations to East Timor. We will continue to expose the sordid role of
> imperialist governments in the oppression of the Timorese and warn that
> the movement must be vigiliant and continue to mobilise if East Timor is
> to be free.

 It would be incredibly naive to think that Western imperialism will let the
East Timorese people decide how long they occupy their country. Look at
Kosovo today - it had more democracy when ruled by the Belgrade regime, for
Christ's sake. Who is going to try these people? - oh the independent UN, of
course. Silly me.

 Hey, maybe instead of campaigning for the Australian government and the UN
to do things, why don't you put forward your support for socialist
revolution in East Timor and Indonesia? No, you'll probably denounce that as
unrealistic, compared to the realism of the Australian bourgeoisie paying
out reparations and for all former prime ministers to be put on trial.

 Owen Jones

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