What’s wrong with Tim Anderson?
The weird and wacky world of the far right blogosphere has had a busy fortnight. They pulled out all stops: shocking headlines, capital letters, even the classic homoerotic picture of a topless Putin on a horse. The point of all this frantic activity? To cast as much doubt as possible on the indisputable fact that Bashar al-Assad had unleashed yet another barrage of chemical weapons on the Syrian people.
 
It’s a trick that was pioneered in 2013 to deflect attention from Assad’s chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. The idea is to throw as many accusations and counter-accusations around as possible in the immediate aftermath of an atrocity, and hope some of them become lodged in public consciousness.
 
The effect is to create the appearance of controversy or legitimate debate, thus transforming a straightforward narrative of mass murder into an issue that is “complex” and “contested”. Those of us who campaign for Palestine have experienced this manoeuvre many times at the hands of Israeli propagandists.
 
It is obvious why those who support the hard right government of Vladimir Putin – including Marine Le Pen, Steve Bannon and the KKK’s David Duke – would go for this sort of thing. They love a good dictatorship and probably go to sleep dreaming of establishing their own someday. It’s much harder to understand why sections of the left could be drawn in behind this sort of conspiratorial rubbish.
 
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what has happened over the past few years.
 
Nobody symbolises this coalition of neo-fascists and former leftists more than Sydney University academic Tim Anderson.
 
Once associated with the anti-war movement, Anderson has now made supporting the Assad dynasty his life’s work. This has involved churning out articles filled with recycled government propaganda, organising conferences and rallies in support of the regime, and even state-sanctioned tours of Syria.
 
His unique dedication to the cause of tyranny has been rewarded with an exclusive private audience with Bashar himself, the man responsible for the deaths of at least 400,000 Syrians. In a demonstration of the toxic endpoint of this political stance, Anderson also shared a speaking platform with a well-known fascist, Jim Saleam, and stood alongside fascists at a memorial for slain Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov.
 
Those unfamiliar with the history of Stalinism might reasonably be shocked at this sort of behaviour. The sad truth is that there is a long legacy of Western leftists defending the indefensible in the guise of “opposing imperialism”.
 
The Cold War taught generations of people – many of whom were more or less well-meaning to begin with – how to defend gulags in the name of communism. All instances of revolutionary struggles in the Soviet bloc were denounced as CIA plots, and millions cheered on the restoration of order by Russian tanks.
 
There were always dissidents: genuine Marxists who insisted that working class democracy was a precondition for socialist transformation of society, but these groups and individuals were rarely in a position to have a political impact.
 
There are now no longer any “communist” states left, but the geopolitical lesser-evilism that infected much of the left remains widespread. People like Anderson have convinced themselves that Russia, Iran and Syria represent the only hope of resisting US hegemony in the Middle East.
 
They’re dead wrong. And by assisting the Syrian regime’s whitewashing of its crimes, they have the blood of thousands on their hands.
The reason this matters, and isn’t just a debate to be had over a beer with mates, is that these issues have huge implications for the type of movements we want to build. This is most immediately obvious with regard to Syrian refugees.
 
How can Assadists be part of much needed campaigns in solidarity with Syrian refugees when they defend the regime that the vast majority of those refugees have fled? How can they combat Islamophobia in the West when they happily slander every Syrian revolutionary as a “jihadist” or a “headchopper”?
 
In Sydney last week, this was demonstrated very clearly when a small contingent of Assadists turned up to a rally for refugee rights. They heckled a speaker for criticising the Syrian government’s bombing of civilians and tried to take over the event toward the end of the march. The media surrounded them immediately, seizing the chance to depict the far left as defenders of totalitarianism.
 
Since then, we have seen multiple articles in the mainstream media attacking Anderson and his pals. While they are valid in pointing out the many problems with his views, we should be wary of attempts to use the disgraceful politics of a dying breed of Stalinist to discredit the genuine left.
Read more
A revolution in Australia?
Ben Hillier

Revolutions happen only in places with repressive regimes and extreme poverty. They don’t happen in economically advanced, democratic countries like Australia. Most people think this. But is it right? Recent history might seem to suggest so—social revolutions are practically unheard of in the West. There are, however, a number of reasons why revolution in Australia is possible.

Vote Victorians Socialists

The billionaires have had it too good for too long. CEO salaries are up more than 40 percent in a year, while living standards for everyone else are getting smashed. Decade after decade, under both major parties, the rich have gotten richer while everyone else struggles. And the politicians run Victoria like it’s their own private cash machine. 

Women’s oppression and capitalism
Women’s oppression and capitalism
Diane Fieldes

Women’s oppression looks quite different today than 60 years ago. Women’s rights are more accepted now, women are a bigger part of the workforce, contraception and abortion are legal in much of the world. There are more women world leaders and CEOs than ever before. At the same time, the vast majority of women, even in a wealthy country like Australia, are still paid less on average than men, still do most of the unpaid child care and other domestic labour in the home and still have to contend with demeaning sexist stereotypes.

Greek resistance in WWII: from triumph to defeat 
Greek resistance in WWII
Tom Bramble

Imperialist occupation has always generated resistance. Time and again, oppressed people have risen up heroically to drive out occupying armies. But heroism isn’t always enough: the politics of the resistance frequently make the difference between victory and defeat. 

WA public sector workers fight back
Nick Everett

Western Australian public sector workers will rally at the state parliament on 17 August to demand that wages keep up with the cost of living. The rally, organised by the Public Sector Alliance of nine trade unions, follows several stop-work rallies held at WA hospitals over the last month, involving thousands of health workers.

Labor’s climate bill is a disaster
Jerome Small

The whole country is talking about Labor’s Climate Change Bill. But there’s nothing there.