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Issue #1751      October 5, 2016

Editorial

The politics of hate and division

Right-wing politicians and the capitalist media argue that legislating against racism and the incitement to racist hatred is an infringement upon the individual’s right to free speech. On the contrary, it deepens and broadens freedom of speech.

Communists are in a position to discuss free speech and hate groups, a position that comes from our militant history of being in the forefront of free speech fights.

The Party has – in united action with other democratic forces – fought off attempts to make it illegal, a struggle that in the broader scheme of things, was a victory for the rights of the working people in general: the cutting edge of developing and deepening the democratic ideal of free speech by fighting to extend it to the whole working class.

Democracy and free speech have a class basis. There is freedom for the ruling class and corporate interests, whose bottom line is maximum profit and exploitation, and restrictions for the victims of exploitation and those who challenge it.

There may be free speech for bigots – such as a number of current Liberal-National Coalition MPs and Pauline Hanson and the fascist groups giving her back-up – but not free speech for workers trying to organise a union – those workers get sacked, black-listed and threatened with deregistration and jail. While there may be free speech for neo-Nazis such freedoms are curtailed and restricted for strikers fighting the good fight – the courts hand down decisions preventing strikers from assembling and allowing strike breakers to cross pickets.

There may be free speech for racists attacking people based on their religion and their very culture, but not free speech for their victims. The current atmosphere of suspicion, fear and racism is a direct assault on freedom of speech.

The fascist groups that have recently made themselves known have been emboldened, not to say encouraged, to do so by the current federal government. With its racist, divisive agenda (Attorney General George Brandis’ statement in Parliament, “I want the right to be a bigot”) it has not only opened the door to these racist elements, it has sent an invitation and put down a welcome mat.

These groups don’t usually publicly push their odious doctrines because they are well aware that the majority of people reject their ideas. But they are now encouraged to the point where a Liberal MP, George Christensen, attends and speaks at their rallies.

Christensen has posted a statement on Facebook, saying, “I want to support people who seek to defend our Australian way of life, our culture and our freedoms from the threat of radical Islam.” The likes of Reclaim Australia are this government’s real constituency: they embody the values and narrow view of the world espoused by Hanson and former PM Tony Abbott and his carefully selected Christian fundamentalist Cabinet members.

The real threat to people’s democracy is the division and disunity being pushed by governments arising out of the continuing economic crisis. Poverty and unemployment are on the rise in all the developed nations; Australia is no exception. The Turnbull government is intent on cutting essential services while pouring billions into the military.

The need for a broad united front in Australia is pressing.

Already there have been statements and formal public protests from church groups, politicians and former MPs – including from both the Liberal and Labor Parties, as well as some trade union involvement – against the government’s inhumane refugee policies.

Historically all progressive and democratic sections of society take up campaigns against the effects of social and economic crisis, the drive to war and the attacks on democratic rights and living standards. A range of progressive movements already exists which involve workers, intellectuals, professional workers and other social groups.

In fighting together for a common program, a cohesive democratic unity can be developed and be directed against the most reactionary big business, ruling class circles. Opposition to emerging forms of tyranny at home is a necessary part of the world movement against corporate tyranny everywhere. The one gains momentum from the other.

Dictatorship and war are the grotesque death throws of a doomed system. Let us work even harder to unite together and put it out of its misery.

Next article – For stable and lasting peace

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