Oppose the political censorship of the SEP (Australia)

15 April 2015

The Socialist Equality Party calls on WSWS readers around the world to write letters of protest condemning the flagrant act of political censorship targeting the SEP and its fight, as part of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), to develop an international anti-war movement in the working class on the basis of a socialist and internationalist perspective.

On April 10, the Labor Party-controlled Burwood City Council in Sydney cancelled the hall booking made by the SEP for a public meeting, “Anzac Day, the glorification of militarism and the drive to World War III.” This is one of three meetings to be held in Sydney, Melbourne and Wellington on April 26 as part of the campaign throughout the ICFI for the international online May Day rally against capitalism and imperialism that will take place on May 3 (May 4 Australian time).

Burwood Council acted directly in response to complaints by individuals associated with the right-wing, anti-immigrant and pro-war “Reclaim Australia” movement, which denounced the SEP meeting as “un-Australian” and demanded that it be prevented from taking place. Burwood Council justified the cancellation on the grounds of the “nature of the meeting” but gave no further explanation. Today, it has informed the numerous SEP supporters and WSWS readers who have written letters of protest, that it will not reverse its decision.

So far, not one of the council members—the Labor Party Mayor John Faker, three other Labor councillors, including one who is a member of the New South Wales state parliament, two Liberal Party councillors and one “independent”—has replied to the formal letter of complaint sent by the SEP, which drew attention to the fact that the council had acted at the behest of extreme right-wing elements, and demanded it lift its ban on the meeting.

Likewise, not one television or print media outlet has reported this act of political censorship, despite their undoubted knowledge of the cancellation and their regular coverage of the activities of the right-wing “Reclaim Australia” since it organised anti-Muslim protests on April 4.

Everything indicates, therefore, that discussions have taken place, at far higher levels of the political establishment and state apparatus than the Burwood Council, to ban the SEP meeting. An attempt is being made to establish a precedent: that the SEP can be denied the right to book political meetings or hold other public activities due to its opposition to Australian nationalism and war. This is a direct attack on the political struggle being waged by the ICFI, the World Socialist Web Site and the SEP.

The SEP meetings in Australia and New Zealand will be held one day after the government-funded and media-sponsored deluge of patriotism that has been organised to celebrate the April 25 centenary of the deployment of Australian and New Zealand troops (Anzacs) into their first battle of World War I—the British and French invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula in modern-day Turkey. Tens of thousands of youth have been drawn into a “Camp Gallipoli” sleep-over, ahead of dawn services, parades and other commemorations of every war to which Australian troops have been deployed. It is impossible to turn on a TV station or open a newspaper without being assaulted by this repulsive “celebration.”

The nationalist frenzy accompanying Anzac Day is not about past events of 100 years ago, but about silencing anti-war sentiment today in order to legitimise the criminal militarist foreign policy of the Abbott National-Liberal coalition government and its partner in Washington. The Australian ruling elite and its political parties—both Labor and Liberal-National—are serving as one of the closest allies of US imperialism in its military interventions around the world. Today, 330 Australian troops leave for a two-year deployment to Iraq, joining more than 600 troops already in the Middle East. At the same time, behind the backs of the Australian population, Abbott’s government, and those of his Labor predecessors, Rudd and Gillard, have integrated Australia into Washington’s “pivot” to Asia, including the expansion of American bases and deployments throughout the country, and incorporated the Australian military into US plans for war with China.

The intrigues of US and Australian imperialism are part of the drive by world capitalism toward war. A century after World War I, the insoluble contradictions of the capitalist system, between world economy and its division into competing nation-states, in which the private ownership of the means of production is rooted, have once again led to global economic breakdown and generated immense international tensions over control of resources, markets and sources of profit. From the Middle East, to Ukraine and from Nigeria to the South China Sea, flashpoints have been created that could trigger, at any time, open conflict between nuclear-armed states and the catastrophe of a World War III.

The ICFI and its sections internationally are the only conscious and active opponents of imperialist war and militarism, giving expression to the profound anti-war sentiment that exists among workers and youth around the world. This opposition to war finds no expression within the political establishment, the mass media or popular culture of any country. In Australia, the SEP is the only party that is exposing, condemning and fighting to mobilise the working class against the dangers of war, including the US “pivot” to Asia and the advanced preparations for conflict with China.

This attack on the ICFI and the SEP is, in the most profound sense, an attack on the international working class. By seeking to censor and silence the world Trotskyist movement, the ruling class and its political defenders are attempting to prevent the working class from taking up the revolutionary internationalist perspective necessary to unify workers of all countries, in a common struggle against the capitalist profit system, and end forever the scourge of war.

Throughout the twentieth century, in the course of every bloody conflagration, the ruling classes have launched major assaults on the democratic rights of the working class at home, in order to suppress political opposition.

That is why we call on class conscious workers and youth around the world to respond to the attack on the SEP with the most resolute opposition. We call for letters of protest to be sent to Burwood Council at council@burwood.nsw.gov.au, condemning its refusal to reverse its decision and demanding that it immediately do so. All copies should be cc’d to the Socialist Equality Party at sep@sep.org.au.

We urge all WSWS readers in Australia and New Zealand to take a principled political stand against this attack on democratic rights and to participate in the fight to develop an international anti-war movement by attending our meetings in Sydney, Melbourne and Wellington on April 26. In the event that Burwood Council does not reverse its ban, an alternative venue will be arranged and advertised on the WSWS.

Most importantly, we call on workers and youth everywhere to register today for the international online May Day rally. It will constitute a powerful demonstration of, and contribution to, the international unity of the working class on the basis of the perspective of world socialist revolution.

James Cogan

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