The direct war by the United States and its allies, including Australia, against the people of Vietnam lasted for 10 years, beginning with US air strikes against North Vietnam in February 1965 and the landing in South Vietnam in March 1965 of 3500 US combat troops. Over the next seven years US warplanes dropped a total of 7mn tonnes of bombs on Vietnam, 3½ times the amount dropped by US warplanes during all of World War II. Despite this, by the end of the war on April 30, 1975, the Vietnamese people had defeated the mightiest military power in human history. But this victory came at the cost of at least 3 million Vietnamese dead.
Sydney – Fairfield City Council has caved in to pressure from the right-wing Vietnamese Community in Australia (VCA) and agreed to the group hoisting the defunct flag of the old Saigon regime on council land on three occasions each year.
Comrades, I bring warm greetings of solidarity from Australia on behalf of the Democratic Socialist Perspective, our youth organisation Resistance, and our newspaper Green Left Weekly. We warmly salute the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, when Comrade Ho Chi Minh proclaimed Vietnam’s independence to hundreds of thousands gathered in Hanoi on September 2, 1945. After years of fighting the French colonialists, and then five years of Japanese occupation, Vietnam was free. But full liberation was to take another 30 years of suffering and sacrifice, and fierce fighting.
The anti-communist Vietnamese group calling itself the Vietnamese Community in Australia (VCA) has been rebuffed in its scheme to have the flag of the US-imposed Saigon regime – overthrown by the Vietnamese national liberation movement in 1975 – officially recognised in Australia.
A major diplomatic incident could be triggered by a diehard right-wing Vietnamese group in Sydney, with the naive complicity of the Fairfield City Council.
Since 1993 our party has held the position that the ruling Chinese bureaucracy has been presiding over the restoration of capitalism in China. However, our policy toward China has been ambiguous: while taking an oppositional stance in our public press toward the ruling bureaucracy’s restorationist course, we have left it unclear as to whether we continued to believe that China is still a bureaucratically ruled socialist state.
The second Asia Pacific International Solidarity Conference, held in Sydney March 28-April 1 was an outstanding success. Seven hundred and fifty people, including international participants from more than thirty countries, attended.
Exhausting but exhilarating, sometimes a bit chaotic, but always politically stimulating, it provided a unique opportunity for left activists in the Asia Pacific region to get together, exchange views, discuss politics and build closer collaboration and foster solidarity actions with each other’s struggles.
Capitalism is in crisis, and you’d have to be blind, or a particularly gross and stupid billionaire, not to know it. Just look around the world and you’re faced with the squalor of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, exploitation, and environmental devastation. And you also see the obscene wealth, the luxury for a few. In Indonesia the crisis is very visible, in your face.
Our party congress was held not much more than three months ago, and discussed thorough reports on perspectives for our work in Australia and for our international work. But some matters were left unresolved, with question marks over them. For example, we didn’t make firm projections for our election work. And we raised the question, “Let’s wait and see if the ISO here follows the line of the SWP in Britain.” We didn’t have long to wait. Certainly there’s been a rapid resolution on that front, with big developments in Australia.
Whose century was the 20th, and whose century will the 21st be? As the millennium draws to a close, we should reflect on this. Capitalism is still in power across most of the globe. Capitalists in the imperialist countries have accumulated unprecedented wealth. They have previously undreamt-of military power and weapons of mass destruction at their disposal. Some think they can act with complete impunity, slaughtering millions in Iraq with bombs and brutal blockades or raining destruction on Serbia from a great height, free from retaliation.