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Issue #1905      March 2, 2020

Racist Poison ... “White Australia”

The White Australia policy is the ill-visaged, ill-begotten child of imperialism ... The intention is to build up here a reliable bastion of British imperialism with an eye to it helping to keep in subjection the coloured peoples of the British colonial empire. Coloured men in Australia in these circumstances might be expected to sympathise with other coloured people, consequently, would prove to be “unreliable.” Therefore, the White Australia policy is no different to any other racial policy.

Race superiority and colour prejudices were handy weapons for the imperialists. The coloured Asiatics were depicted as an “inferior” variety of humanity who needed the “aid” of the European bourgeoisie to “civilise” them and make them “fit to govern themselves.” Such were the type of “moral” arguments used by imperialism to justify and conceal its brutal exploitation and repression of the “colonial” races. Markets, super-profits, raw materials, cheap labour for finance-capital, were the real objectives of the conquest of Asia.

When L L Sharkey visited India and Malaya (1948) the Australian press invented “some choice distortions” of statements he had made on the White Australia policy in those countries. He had added nothing new to well-known Communist policy, e.g. it never proposed that his country be flooded with cheap labour from any country, Asiatic or otherwise, or that the control of immigration be taken out of the hands of the Australian people. But racist poison was commonly featured in the press, and the “Labor imperialists” (as L L Sharkey termed them) added their share.

In recent times, people from the Asiatic countries, American Negroes, and others have been seized by the Chifley Labor government police and forcibly deported in spite of the fact that many of them served Australia in the war against Japanese fascism, are married to Australian citizens, and parents of Australian-born children. Only energetic protests from the New Zealand government prevented the deportation of Maoris also from Australia. [...]

Asia is on the march. There is a tremendous revolutionary ferment, which is smashing to smithereens the chains of feudalism, imperialism, and medievalism which have hitherto bound the Asiatic peoples. Some of them may even evolve into imperialistic powers. The future alone can decide this.

Therefore, it is not in any sense in the true national interests of Australia to continue to affront these peoples and cause resentment in their minds against this country. On the contrary we need, because of our nearness to these countries, leaving aside all other considerations, to cultivate the closest and most friendly relations with the Asiatic countries.

That is why I repeatedly had to point out to the press and political representatives of Asiatic countries that a considerable body of progressive opinion in Australia opposed the so-called White Australia policy, irrespective of the distortions and outright lies that I knew would be broadcast by the reactionary press of Australia about what I had to say on this subject. [...]

After the experiences of Hitler’s racist savagery, with the slaughter of millions, it was thought that no decent person would tolerate a repetition. Yet the violence of the race-hate propaganda was growing alarmingly.

The fascist-minded Bulletin is as unashamed in the starkness of its racial propaganda as the Hitlerites. Lang’s Century vies with the Bulletin and Smith’s Weekly in the virulence of its anti-Semitic and anti-alien campaign. [...]

The political life of this country is more and more poisoned by it. The so-called White Australia policy aims at the exclusion of coloured peoples on the ground of “racial purity.” The Communist Party of Australia and the Labour movement generally, on economic grounds, is against the swamping of this country with immigrants, no matter from where they come. But the phrase “White Australia” should be dropped and a quota of immigrants from coloured countries allowed entry, as in America. [...]

Again, it (“race purity”) is to be found in immigration. Despite the tremendous contributions to world civilisation and culture of the Latin countries, their glittering military history and so forth, they are regarded by the government and immigration authorities as “inferior” and to be discouraged, and, outside of the British people, only Scandinavians should be encouraged to come here. The population of most of the Scandinavian countries is microscopic and consequently immigrants from there won’t be too plentiful, even if they were “superior.”

Such is the contradiction which “racial purity” has injected into immigration policy.

In the end the racial problem can only be finally solved on the basis of proletarian internationalism, on the basis of Marxist-Leninist teachings. It can only be finally solved in a Socialist society.

Inevitably capitalist imperialism, with its greedy and selfish aims, will stir up anti-Semitism, antagonism between white and coloured workers, will stir up every form of racial conflict to prevent unity in the struggle against capitalism, poverty and war.

Therefore, in the interests of the whole of the working masses, the Communist Party unceasingly wages the fight against racial discrimination, for international unity and solidarity under the great slogan “Workingmen of all Countries, Unite!”

This essay originally appeared in The Sharkey Writings, an edited compilation of L L Sharkey’s writings. The essay was edited from Tribune articles in February and April of 1947-48 respectively.

Next article – Dixon Replies to Slanders by Hughes

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