'People's power will stop the warmongers'

October 24, 2001


Prime Minister John Howard has spent a lot of time on the campaign trail in the last few weeks scaremongering about the supposed "terrorist threat" in Australia. What hypocrisy! Howard and his mates in government are this country's most dangerous terrorists.

We need only look at their record: their complicity with the Indonesian military's attempted genocide of the East Timorese people, and which continues against the people of Aceh and West Papua; their war against refugees fleeing oppressive regimes; and their continuing war against the poor of this country.

And now, they are committing Australian troops to a brutal war against the Afghan people, and against any other country that US President George Bush decides to target.

Of course, we have the so-called Labor "opposition" as an alternative. In this election campaign, Labor's Kim "Bomber" Beazley is striving to join the club of warmongers, to be in the driver's seat of Australia's contribution to the US war. Like the Coalition, the ALP declares: "All the way with the USA". Picture

Labor's pro-war politics should not come as a surprise. Beazley served in Bob Hawke's Labor government that participated in the 1991 Gulf War at the request of US President George Bush senior.

After Howard's announcement that Australian troops were to be sent to join Bush's war, Beazley eagerly proclaimed that "all Australians support the commitment of troops". Maybe all those at the swishy business dinners that he attends support war, death and destruction.

But we will not and cannot support this unjust war!

Some of us in Socialist Alliance had the unfortunate experience on October 8 of coming face to face with both these "leaders" as they wined and dined their way through Adelaide, as part of their election campaigns.

While they were schmoozing with South Australia's top business leaders and corporate media bosses, we were with the protesters outside demanding an end to the war.

Of course, the capitalist media always tries to portray protesters and activists as the lunatic fringe, rather than a potentially powerful force for change.

A "lone protester marred Beazley's speech" said the TV news. Beazley was interrupted by an "apparently hysterical" protester said one of the newspapers.

The hypocrisy is striking. It is the mainstream media and capitalist politicians who are creating hysteria about some supposed terrorist threat.

The mainstream media gives these politicians all the space and air-time in the world to get their message out. It is they who are creating the basis for the racist hysteria against Arab people and Muslims and they have the nerve to defame or ignore those of us who raise our voices against this unjust war.

How can we get our voices heard in the face of this? How do we break through the lies and distortions and disempowerment that is so much a part of the capitalist political system? A political system that dictates that the only way to be heard is through the rulers' institutions, through their parliaments and through their mass media — as long as you don't rock their boat.

The Socialist Alliance is determined to rock the boat. We are determined to use whatever means necessary to amplify the voices of those demanding justice — to build the voice of the people.

We tell the truth and dedicate ourselves to building a movement that can break through the wall of lies that is mainstream parliamentary politics.

I'm not here today to tell you that a vote for the Socialist Alliance in the November 10 federal election will change the world. What we are saying is that we need a people's power alternative. That is what the Socialist Alliance stands for.

It is the voice of the people that must be heard, in the elections and on the streets. It would be nice if we could extend that voice into the hallowed halls of parliament.

It would be a voice that would not only speak out against war, but against all forms of injustice and inequality, a voice that would speak out against an economic and political system that prioritises military spending before health care.

In this capitalist system, government priorities are not set according to what is right. They are set by what benefits the tiny minority that own and control the handful of rich Western countries. That is why billions in the Third World continue to suffer from hunger, disease, landlessness and exploitation. Such a system drives people to desperation. It creates a world that is fertile ground for the false messiahs who advocate terrorism as a solution.

For a world of true peace, we must turn these priorities on their head.

We must stop the war against the poor people of the world. Who can stop this? Who can bring these real and most dangerous terrorists to justice?

To answer this question, we needn't look too far back in history. It was the people who stopped the Vietnam War. It is people's power that can and will stop this war. Already, there have been protests throughout the world.

People's power will defeat the warmongers. People's power will stop this war. People's power will bring a world of peace and justice.

[Kathy Newnam is standing on the Socialist Alliance's South Australian Senate ticket. This article is based a speech delivered to an anti-war rally in Adelaide on October 13. Visit the Socialist Alliance web site at <http://www.socialist-alliance.org>.]

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