The Liberating capacities of Australian Imperialism

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Sun Jan 28 21:57:52 MST 2001

Alan Bradley posted an article from 'Green Left Weekly'

The article by Norm Dixon, himself a sometimes contributor to the Marxism
List, and one whom I've sometimes *agreed* with, defends the DSP's support
(indeed their call) for Australian imperialism to intervene in East Timor.
Moreover, it seems to suggest that Australian imperialism could play an
even greater role in 'liberating' the oppressed of the world, or at least
the oppressed of South-East Asia.

Norm writes in his article:

>According to David Lague and Michelle Grattan, in an article in the
>December 6 Melbourne Age, "Mr Howard believes interest in defence has
>surged with a new generation free from the traumas of the Vietnam War and
>intensely interested in the ANZAC tradition".
>The Australian's Cameron Stewart on December 6 claimed the "strong
>performance of the ADF [Australian Defence Force] in helping restore order
>to the devastated territory ... marked a sea change in the public interest
>in and support for the military ... At last, the government saw a political
>opportunity to increase defence spending without risking votes."
>Is this the case? Has the 'Vietnam syndrome' - the reluctance of the big
>majority of the Australian people to support Australian participation in
>wars abroad if there is the risk of significant Australian casualties -
>been finally put to rest?
>While it is true that the Australian-led military intervention that put an
>end to the Indonesian military-backed militia killings in East Timor was
>very popular - and the Australian ruling class and its mass media have
>attempted to milk it for whatever gains they can - it is drawing a long bow
>to say that this has translated into generalised support for a policy of
>Australian military intervention in the region.
>The fact that the motive cited for future military interventions must be
>clothed in the garb of 'humanitarian' operations and 'peacekeeping'
>indicates that most Australians are nowhere near as gung-ho as the
>Australian ruling class would like.

But this is precisely one opf the key spots where the whole DSP analysis
and position falls down.

Post Cold War imperialist interventions have little to do with traditional
gung-ho style militarism.  The ruling classes aren't themselves promotiung
'gung ho-ism', so they aren't much bothered that the population isn't
especially gung ho.

The ruling classes in the West are promoting their interventions as
'humanitarian' and 'peacekeeping'.  Far from this being a concession to
mass anti-militarist sentiment which restricts their actions, it is the
'new ideology of imperialism' - or a new form of the old white man's
burden.  It is precisely the 'humanitarian' and 'peacekeeping' fig leaf
which has to be torn away.

>East Timor and West Papua
>The East Timor intervention was popular because ordinary people believed it
>was a good thing to help an oppressed people win their freedom. However,
>the sort of military interventions that the Australian government foresees
>will be the opposite. They will be about maintaining oppressive regimes and
>blocking struggles for freedom.

The DSP misunderstands the nature of the post-Cold War world.  So far, far
from trying to maintain old-style dictatorships, the imperialists are
replacing them with 'democratic' regimes which are even more pliable to the
demands of the World bank, IMF, Washington, Canberra etc, than old-style
Cold War dictatorships.

Instead of assisting in this process, the left in the First World should be
pointing out what is going on and what this means for the people of the
Third World.

>A great fear among sections of the Australian ruling class is that the
>precedent of the Australian people forcing the use of Australian troops to
>help a people liberate itself from foreign rule may be repeated in West

The DSP and 'the Australian people' were pushing at an open door in calling
for Australian troops to be sent to East Timor.  Now, the DSP seems to hope
for the Australian army to be sent to 'liberate' West Papua?

But, hey, why stop there?  Why not send Australian troops to sort out Fiji?
Why not send the liberatory forces of Australian imperialism to Palestine?

Globalise those liberating ANZAC diggers!

I have just been reading some stuff from the Second International for my
thesis - stuff mainly on the Stuttgart Congress of 1907.  The Germans, most
notably Bernstein, were arguing for Second International parties to urge
upon their imperialist governments a 'socialist' colonial policy. Lenin and
Luxemburg roasted them.  It is very unfortunate that my old friends (as in
the sense of former comrades of the same International) in the DSP are
going down the 'socialist' colonial policy route.

Philip Ferguson

"Don't Dream It - Extreme It" (Lana Coc Kroft)

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