reply to Gary MacLennan (re East Timor)

Andy Gianniotis hiandy at
Mon May 28 21:09:51 MDT 2001

> I do edit my bloody posts. Nor am I a dogmatist with or without the
capitals.But I will ignore that provocation and proceed calmly to your post.

I'm sorry about the captials, I do truly try to patiently explain, but its
having to do so over and over again that adds the frustration. Three points:

1. of course the Australian state were going to make the best of a bad
situation, they will ALWAYS do so. It is NOT an argument for not calling on
the Australian state to reverse its policy towards the East Timorese.

2. every year when they roll out the war veterans on ANZAC day, they
Australian state is trying to undo the effects of the "Vietnam Syndrome".
Blind Freddy could see the role the "imperialist troops" were going to play
in East Timor, that is, to help the East Timorese guerillas achieve what
they couldn't do for 25 years, that is, to rid themselves of their
oppressors. The general secretary of the Timor Socialist Party, himself one
of those freedom fighters and a Marxist, agreed that it would be better to
live to fight another day. So, we (DSP) weren't asking Aussie troops to
'fight' another Vietnam, we were asking to help the Timorese improve their
situation (and not just any situation, freedom from a scroched earth
policy). Which they did.

> That is the great harm that your Party has perpetrated and I for one
refuse to forget it.

Watch out for a reply to an earlier piece you sent in regarding a public
meeting at the Brisbane Resistance centre where you accuse us of a stage
managed event with brainwashed DSP members dully quoting the party line.
Ordinarily I would just let sectarian slander do like the water off the
ducks back, but I found the same shit being used to describe the DSP on
another email list so I'll have to reply, as I was actually there. I won't
forget you either, Gary - you may be a great agitational speaker on the ills
of capitalism, but your individualism seems to hold you back on being useful
for the revolutionary movement. Please see my next post for what I'm talking

> Our role is not to be cheer leaders for imperial policy.  If we ever
become so and the DSP certainly did with Norm Dixon on TV screaming Send in
the Troops, we and the people will play a terrible price.

What do you think we were saying to the 30,000 in Sydney and 40,000 in
Melbourne??? Repeating all the swarmy lies put forward by Howard and his ilk
about the troops thing ??? The first obvious thing to say is we put the boot
in big time !!! We gave the clearest and most easily understood history
lesson of exactly what Australian governments past and present had been up
to for 25 years. We put the boot in time and time again. We gave a clear
line on what we expected Australian troops to do. About having to make sure
that we were going to help rather than just "take over". etc etc etc. Rather
than let a liberal lead the Australian masses (who were also calling for
"troops in" - a progressive call - for "Australia" to help people), we
decided to, so we COULD put the boot in, talk about the relationship between
the East Timor crisis, and capitalism & imperialism.

The question is: what was the alternative ?? Leave the East Timorese in the
hands of the Indonesian state ?? Leave Elian in the hands of the Miami Cuban
mafia ??

3. In all of your reply, Gary, not once did you explain the actions of the
"Imperialist Troops". You gave them the oft quoted description, but never
once described what they ACTUALLY did. What comes first? The theory or the

> You actually seem to genuinely believe that not only did
> you persuade the Australian Govt to get the Australian
> Army in but that the Australians actually used the troops
> to stop the killing.  The Indonesians were brought to heel
> by the Americans.

I think that the Indonesian generals aren't stupid. Do you think they were
going to fight the Aussie troops after it was clear they were going to
come?? They got away with as much "scorched earth" as they could, revenge
for the fact that they weren't going to be able to hold onto their business
interests in Timor. What would have happened if troops hadn't gone in ???
Can you give even an idea of a scenario that doesn't include the
independence movement being wiped out ?? The mititary maybe were thinking of
a way out of the idependence vote - if there's no East Timorese, what's the
point of implementing the referendum result ...

Here's a little part of Jack London's "The Iron Heel" which I'm always
reminded of when people assert things without any slightest reference to
facts ... regards, Andy.

"All right, then," he answered; "and let me begin by saying that you are all
mistaken. You know nothing, and worse than nothing, about the working class.
Your sociology is as vicious and worthless as is your method of thinking."

"You are metaphysicians. You can prove anything by metaphysics; and having
done so, every metaphysician can prove every other metaphysician wrong--to
his own satisfaction. You are anarchists in the realm of thought. And you
are mad cosmos-makers. Each of you dwells in a cosmos of his own making,
created out of his own fancies and desires. You do not know the real world
in which you live, and your thinking has no place in the real world except
in so far as it is phenomena of mental aberration.

"Do you know what I was reminded of as I sat at table and listened to you
talk and talk? You reminded me for all the world of the scholastics of the
Middle Ages who gravely and learnedly debated the absorbing question of how
many angels could dance on the point of a needle. Why, my dear sirs, you are
as remote from the intellectual life of the twentieth century as an Indian
medicine- man making incantation in the primeval forest ten thousand years
ago." ...

"I call you metaphysicians because you reason metaphysically," Ernest went
on. "Your method of reasoning is the opposite to that of science. There is
no validity to your conclusions. You can prove everything and nothing, and
no two of you can agree upon anything. Each of you goes into his own
consciousness to explain himself and the universe. As well may you lift
yourselves by your own bootstraps as to explain consciousness by
consciousness." ...

"The metaphysician reasons deductively out of his own subjectivity. The
scientist reasons inductively from the facts of experience. The
metaphysician reasons from theory to facts, the scientist reasons from facts
to theory. The metaphysician explains the universe by himself, the scientist
explains himself by the universe."

"There is another way of disqualifying the metaphysicians," Ernest said, ...
"Judge them by their works. What have they done for mankind beyond the
spinning of airy fancies and the mistaking of their own shadows for gods?
They have added to the gayety of mankind, I grant; but what tangible good
have they wrought for mankind? They philosophized, if you will pardon my
misuse of the word, about the heart as the seat of the emotions, while the
scientists were formulating the circulation of the blood. They declaimed
about famine and pestilence as being scourges of God, while the scientists
were building granaries and draining cities. They builded gods in their own
shapes and out of their own desires, while the scientists were building
roads and bridges. They were describing the earth as the centre of the
universe, while the scientists were discovering America and probing space
for the stars and the laws of the stars. In short, the metaphysicians have
done nothing, absolutely nothing, for mankind. Step by step, before the
advance of science, they have been driven back. As fast as the ascertained
facts of science have overthrown their subjective explanations of things,
they have made new subjective explanations of things, including explanations
of the latest ascertained facts. And this, I doubt not, they will go on
doing to the end of time. Gentlemen, a metaphysician is a medicine man. The
difference between you and the Eskimo who makes a fur-clad blubber-eating
god is merely a difference of several thousand years of ascertained facts.
That is all."

"Yet the thought of Aristotle ruled Europe for twelve centuries," Dr.
Ballingford announced pompously. "And Aristotle was a metaphysician."

"Your illustration is most unfortunate," Ernest replied. "You refer to a
very dark period in human history. In fact, we call that period the Dark
Ages. A period wherein science was raped by the metaphysicians, wherein
physics became a search for the Philosopher's Stone, wherein chemistry
became alchemy, and astronomy became astrology. Sorry the domination of
Aristotle's thought!"
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