A daring assumption (was Re: East Timor and all that.)

Greg Schofield gschofield at SPAMone.net.au
Sun May 20 19:45:42 MDT 2001

Insofar as the Australian Bourgeoisie had any interests in the region it
was with the Dutch. There was considerable pro-colonialist feeling in the
ruling class and press, while the independence movement was viewed as a
dangerous leftists. There may have been some other agenda but I cannot see
what that might have been, the conservatives expressed the wish to give
support the Dutch.

However, if Australian imperialism is abstracted even further then of
course it could be said the bourgeoisie had an interest in getting rid of
the Dutch. The point is the bourgeoisie of whatever country and time
usually have an interest in whatever they can immediately arrange, they
have no memory, no loyalty and no restraint - they are profligate in their
hates and love making, neither wise nor foreseeing much beyond their
immediate greed.

Imperialism however, is a different beast to the promiscuous bourgeoisie,
through the state it balances, plans and schemes and veils the lot in
secrecy. The dominant group in Australia which does this, the general HQ of
petty Australian imperialism is not the government, nor Foreign affairs
which it works through but an extra-military intelligence organisation
(that is not integrated into the army but mostly composed of officially
retired military officers).

My point in this, as much as it is worth, is that the domestic bourgeoisie
will adjust to circumstances. But insofar as Australian Imperialism follows
a course these interests are mediated through the state and this is the
critical question in assessing actions. The military and civil bureaucracy
had worked very closely with the Dutch in WWII and had no wish to sever
this connection. However, when the Dutch were expelled they had to adjust
and in this with the aid of the US they helped ferment the coup of 1965 and
directly assisted it.

The Australian Labor Party maintained its allegiances to independant
Indonesia and transferred this to the coup leaders of 1965 (there were of
course divisions within this). Significant sections of Foreign Affairs and
of course military intelligence (who were directly involved in the coup)
did likewise which is in part why Australia helped in the invasion of East
Timor (to consolidate Indonesia).

The reason I gave this illustration (I was writing late at night and
angrier than would be wise), was to point out the direct involvement of
Australia's military intelligence in the events of 1965. Domestic agencies
lifted names from Australian leftists of Indonesia radicals - these in turn
were used to compose death lists and handed over to the coup leaders
through military intelligence. Out of this assistance, the military ties to
Indonesia grew along with bourgeois interests.

I cannot impose what historically developed onto what emerged with the
struggle of independence, there are always some bourgeoisie that see the
writing on the wall earlier than others, there are some bourgeois who may
well have been anti-colonial in disposition (despite their interests or
because of them).  However, I cannot grant imperialism a metaphysical
presence, therefore I cannot see some supra-historical interest as a
guiding hand.

Nestor, obviously we both view events from our different vantage points,
from a greater distance these contradictions and movements are not
significant and your point is thus reasonably put, however, I cannot
contextualise it with what I know and therefore am forced to reject it
based just on the details which are knowable here.

I am glad we both agree that none of this forms a point of judgement for
the struggle of supporting Indonesian national liberation. The next thing
is the Australian ruling class (a client class of the US but one with
significant freedom of action), I hope what I said above makes some sense
in this context, that is insofar as a bourgeoisie and the a bourgeois state
realise imperialist ambitions, 1965 was definitely in their interests and
they busied themselves with it.

However 1965, its necessity, also points out that the previous condition -
national liberation with a definite progressive edge, was not satisfactory,
indeed constituted a threat. In this I am sure you would agree. Therefore,
we cannot make these ahistorical questions, the ruling class has no
supra-historical interests, it opposed (by my assessment at least) the
struggle against the Dutch, when the Dutch were no more it opposed the
emerging regime, until it found elements with which to deal. After the coup
of 65 those in power were much more mailable (but never pure puppets), so
policy naturally changed.

The support given by Australian people to Indonesia national liberation,
was subverted by imperialist strategy and allowed the military to align
with Suharto and his kind, it was further subverted (at least
ideologically) so that support was given to the 1975 invasion of East
Timor, and again it was subverted in the recent struggle for East Timor's

My underlying point is that imperial strategies, because of their secret
nature, emerge in contradictory fashion, that we must analyse this
carefully in each instance and hopefully reveal weaknesses and expose areas
which can be struggled against. However, tendencies to give
supra-historical meanings to various bodies like the UN or even the
military gloss over what is fact the very details which reveal what is
actually going on.

East Timor has been strangled at birth, part of its population is held as
hostages in the Indonesia, meanwhile the leadership has be compromised by
Australia and to an extent social and economic policy is increasingly being
dictated by regional powers (Indonesia, Australia and the US). Each step of
the way the East Timorese people pay a heavy price.

None of this is helped by starry-eyed support for a military intervention
which is over, nor by the condemning of this. Rather placing things in
their historical context is what counts and in this the left in Australia
(and internationally) has been appalling.

My view is that, strangely, within the context of Australia the most honest
and useful contribution made was a couple of ex-diplomats who came out as
best they could to place direct pressure on the government and expose the
brutal game being played with human life - it is a contribution which has
been universally ignored and yet it is one of the keys to understand what
in fact was going on and gives some insight into what is continuing.

Meanwhile, there has been no attempt by any force to exploit the
contradictions within the Australian military forces (between professional
army, which by world standard is well behaved) and military-political
intelligence - the distrust within the army of how it is used, their
cynicism and anti-Americanism needs to be matured, however, the general
approach of the left to defense matters and the armed forces continually
re-enforces the control of imperialism over these forces - the left's
simplistic approach, its silly pre-occupations is a direct assistance to
imperialism - this is what annoys me most of all.

Nestor, perhaps this is not a satisfactory approach, perhaps others will
find this rather too concerned with details and not enough with opposition
- my belief is that effective opposition depends on a realistic assessment
of real conditions and recognition of the forces available (what point is
there in expressing a line for against intervention when events have
overtaken the analysis as was the case all throughout the East Timor
disaster). I want us to be far nimbler on our feet, and far far more
effective in derailing imperialist plans then we are at present.

Greg Schofield
Perth Austalia.

At 07:04  20/05/01 -0400, you wrote:
>En relación a East Timor and all that.,
>el 21 May 01, a las 0:28, Greg Schofield dijo:
> > The Australian Trade Union Movement, Labor Party and Communist party
> > played a significant international role in Indonesian independence,
> > some years later Australian intelligence agencies played a more
> > direct role in the 1965 coup and the slaughter of PKI, trade union
> > leaders and many others.
>Please note that none of the above runs against the interests of the
>Australian bourgeoisie, much to the contrary: expelling Holland from
>Indonesia was a potential asset, as was demonstrated later by the
>tragic events of 1965. This does not judge the honesty of the
>militants and even leaderships of the organizations mentioned by
>Greg. I am just putting the whole thing in a particular perspective,
>which is the perspective of the Australian ruling class. Am I wrong?
>Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
>gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar

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