Why Are Marxists Protesting Global Warming?
If you’ve been paying attention the last twelve months have shown a remarkable trend. Almost every protest relating to “climate change” in Australia has been organised or at the very least co-organised by outright revolutionary Marxist groups. Chief amongst these of course has been Socialist Alternative, the Trotskyist organisation whose activists make up the largest body of far left extremists in Australian politics.
From their “Uni Students for Climate Justice” front group to their outright takeover of many branches of the loosely organised “Extinction Rebellion” organisation Socialist Alternative activists and their comrades from smaller Marxist groups have been not only prominent, but dominant. They organise the events, arrange the publicity, put up the posters, speak to the media and make up the bulk of the speakers. Its become so obvious that even a couple of members of the normally oblivious Australian media have begun to notice.
So what’s behind this sudden pre-eminence of Australia’s largest political extremist group in what is currently the protest flavour of the month? Do communists just really, really care about trees?
Well no. Not exactly.
The history of the Australian extreme left and environmentalism is a long and tortured one. The original “Green Bans” campaign now usually heralded as the beginnings of the modern Australian environmental movement may have been initiated by the Stalinist controlled NSW branch of the Builder’s Labourers Federation, but it was shut down by the Maoist influenced national leadership of the same union. While Marxists in general saw the possibilities of the broader “green” movement there has always been a tendency to dismiss it as a “bourgeois” concern not befitting too much focus.
When the Franklin dams case (arguably the defining event in the birth of the Australian conservation movement) took place in the seventies and early eighties Australian Marxists certainly didn’t oppose the protesters, but they mostly applauded from afar.
More interest was shown in the anti-nuclear movement which stepped up a gear in the eighties. There had long been opposition to uranium mining in Australia after lax safeguards in the 50s led to several instances of significant environmental damage. Also prominent in the early Australian environmental movement was opposition to French Nuclear testing in the Pacific. These campaigns in combination with the upsurge in the arms race between Ronald Reagan’s U.S.A and the declining Soviet Union plus the pro-nuclear stance of newly elected Prime Minister Bob Hawke led to many members of the anti-nuclear movement (including future Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett) to start a party of their own. Such was the strength of anti-nuclear feeling in Australia at the time that at the December 1984 federal election the newly minted “Nuclear Disarmament Party” received 643,061 votes (7.23% of the total), and exceeded 4% in every state except Tasmania, where it received 3.9%.
But they had already let the camel get its nose inside the tent. Marxists across the western world had infiltrated and supported anti-nuclear campaigns with the cynical motivation of weakening the western world in relation to the Soviet Union. The Australian campaign was no exception and the newly minted Nuclear Disarmament Party had been infiltrated at every level by the largest Trotskyist group in Australia: the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). The SWP would eventually rebrand as the Democratic Socialist Party and is today known as the Socialist Alliance.
In April 1985 only a few months after their stunning electoral showing Peter Garrett and other prominent members of the NDP quit the party and stormed out of a conference in Melbourne after realising just how infiltrated by Trotskyists it had become. The superior networks, organisational skills and discipline shown by the Marxists allowed them to have an influence disproportionate to their actual numbers. After realising that he was being used as a celebrity mask for extremists Garrett and the others who left with him decided they could no longer be a part of it. Without their star headliners the once promising NDP crashed in the next two elections and all but ceased to exist.
But it was clear as the collapse of the communist states in eastern Europe progressed that the new way forward on the left was Green politics. In the early 1990s the Socialist Workers Party renamed themselves the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) and launched a new newspaper Green Left Weekly to try and appeal to the rapidly coalescing green movement.
Across Australia state based Green parties were discussing how to unite at a national level. The issue was that while they shared the same name they had sometimes very different views. The Tasmanian Greens were the oldest and most prestigious due to their victory in the Franklin Dams case and the national profile of Bob Brown. The NSW branch had however registered as the first formal “Greens” branch in 1984. While most Greens groups originated in rural and suburban conservation campaigns the NSW Greens were (originally at least) almost exclusively from the Marxist milieu in inner western Sydney.
Originating as a reading group within the Labor Party in Leichhardt, the Sydney Greens were founded partly as a response to the perceived decline of Marxist influence in the ALP, and specifically because a number of members of the Labor left were expelled for supporting independent candidates (including Trotskyist Nick Origlass) in the 1984 municipal elections. The DSP were heavily involved in building the NSW groups from around 1989 and controlled several of the local branch organisations. Numerous members of the old Communist Party of Australia (including future senator Lee Rhiannon) also migrated across to the party in the late 80s and early 90s.
In order to bring these and other varying shades of opinion together Bob Brown brokered a compromise. That the communists would be allowed to remain in the Greens as long as they gave up membership of any other “party” type organisation. This was specifically aimed at the DSP to try and prevent the same turmoil that had ripped the Nuclear Disarmament Party to shreds. It worked. The Trotskyists refused to accept the rules and were purged. The other communists happily dissolved themselves into the new wider national Greens.
Given this wider history it is perhaps surprising that Marxists in Australia have not been more dominant in the environmental movement. They’ve clearly been trying for decades. But now the subject of climate change has helped them along.
Climate change is fantastic for the Marxists as if you accept the alarmist narrative wholeheartedly then it is extremely easy to argue that there is no solution under the current capitalist system. Socialist Alternative argue that the “capitalist state” is so concerned with profit that it is incapable of changing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and so therefore for the survival of life on earth capitalism must be destroyed. This destruction would of course need to happen via an uprising of the organised working class against the capitalist ruling class led by a small vanguard of committed and ideologically enlightened revolutionaries (by which they mean themselves) dedicated to the goal of giving communism one more try.
The complete lack of education regarding the crimes of communism in our school system means that to many people this message can sound attractive. If you don’t know about the Gulags, the purges, the Great Leap forward, the Killing fields or the trails of millions of corpses Marxism has left in almost every corner of the globe then there’s no real reason to doubt the young bright eyed fanatics telling you that Marxist revolution is the solution to every problem in the world.
Just as when they lead “anti-racism” or “anti-sexism” campaigns when the Marxists (and in particular the Trotskyists) are leading a march, speaking on a platform or trying to sell you a newspaper the goal for them is always the same. A revolution to overthrow the government and implement a totalitarian socialist state (with them in charge). Like some demented door-to-door salesmen they will promise anything if it gets them an inch closer to their goal.
And because we never taught young Australians why these people are evil every year they are able to squirm their way deeper into our society and our lives.