The Guardian 28 September, 2005

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Letters to the Editor

Rob replies on drugs

Your correspondent "Name & Address supplied" claims my review of Grass in The Guardian of August 31 is evidence that the CPA "may have absorbed some of the populist petty-bourgeois ideas that brought the former CPA to ruin".

The writer was particularly outraged by what he or she saw as my "acceptance of the use of illegal drugs", specifically marijuana. The writer apparently has no problems with the use of legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, despite their proven injurious effects on the health of the user and anyone else in the vicinity.

As a non-drinker, non-smoker (heck, I don’t even touch coffee), I do not believe that people should have to resort to artificial stimulants to get them through a normal day. And yet that is exactly what the great majority of people in our society do.

Your correspondent is strong in defence of Harry J Anslinger, despite apparently knowing nothing about him: "to my mind he is a hero, not a villain". Anslinger, the first head of the US Federal Drug & Alcohol Bureau, was not — as your correspondent naively believes — "attempting to rid marijuana from society".

By the time Anslinger had finished his fanciful campaign against "the scourge" of marijuana (men who used it would "grow breasts" or "turn into Communists"), the drug was much more widely known and used than it had been before.

Marijuana is only one variety of the hemp plant. Hemp is a versatile natural fibre that was used for everything from clothes, to rope, to ships’ sails, to plumbers’ tape.

While hemp was used the new artificial fibre Nylon, made by the Dupont chemical company, had no chance of securing a market foothold. Anslinger used his position to demonise marijuana and thereby to eliminate all varieties of hemp from the market place.

Prior to becoming the USA’s "drug czar", Anslinger was an executive — of Dupont. This is not a "populist petty-bourgeois idea", it is statement of fact.

It is true, of course, that capitalism is intent on keeping everyone (including the "rebellious youth" referred to by your correspondent) distracted, and if not docile then certainly diverted down dead ends. That is why capitalism ensures that people are supplied with plenty of drugs — not just marijuana, but crack cocaine, crystal meth and heroin — but also spectator sports, alcohol and television.

Although some US government departments are serious about imperialism’s "war on drugs", objectively the war is bogus. Its sophisticated, complex propaganda is a smokescreen behind which capitalists reap huge profits in "black" money.

At the same time, the attention of the people is diverted from the real causes of the social decay and despair that drug use attempts to alleviate.

Marijuana use was de­criminalised in South Australia back in the days of Don Dunstan. It still enjoys that status, but the side-effects of its use are no more evident there than in any state where use of the drug is still criminally proscribed.

The answer to the problem of drug use or abuse is not and never has been prohibition. It is to provide people with a fulfilling life from which they can derive satisfaction and pleasure in company with their fellow workers.

Rob Gowland

Note from Editor: The Political Resolution from the 9th Congress of the CPA put forward the following demands: "Decriminalise drug use, offering full treatment for drug addiction through the state health system.

"Action against organised crime particularly by drug peddlers. Law enforcement agencies to investigate, expose and break the links between big business and drug trafficking and money laundering."

Close the camps

It is amazing. There are still refugees locked up in detention. We are told this is "administrative detention" not punishment. I bet it sure feels like punishment to be locked up for three, four, five years. I bet it feels like punishment to be put in solitary confinement or, as it is called, "management".

I wonder if we ever thought we would treat refugees this way.

I remember reading about Anne Frank and singing about the Von Trapp family when I was young. I began to learn about the heroism of people who helped refugees escape. Remember Rick in Casablanca, or the French Resistance members who smuggled families to safety? Really I thought Australians would be on the side of the refugees. I thought we would offer them safety and welcome.

How will it all end? Will we drive them back to terrible danger, or just drive them mad?

Australia still holds 27 in Nauru, now beginning their fifth year of anguish. It is time to stop this cruelty to innocent people. Close the camps. Close Nauru. Let them begin a safe and secure life.

Elaine Smith
West Haven, NSW

"What type of a Party do we need?"

The forthcoming 10th CPA Congress raises the fundamental question: "What type of a Party do we need?".

We indeed need to build the Party in the working class keeping in mind at all times that it is the Party of the working class, that it is the Party that aspires to the fulfilment of the historical mission of the working class. This mission is none other than the winning of political power by the working class and its allies and the establishment of a socialist society, as the first, the transitional stage of the building of the classless society of communism.

This radical change in society is the ultimate aim and the strategic goal of our Party. The strategic goal itself determines the type of a party needed for the realisation of the goal. It seems to me that this fundamental proposition must be clarified and confirmed by the 10th Congress so that any misconceptions and conflicting notions are dispelled and the way forward becomes easier understood.

One may argue that in our circumstances, being a small and as yet uninfluential party, to talk about the historical mission of the working class is an illusion or maybe a proposition of only academic importance. Yet to ignore this fundamental question and to let it rest until such time as the party is big and strong enough to determine these issues would be a great disservice to the working class and its struggle for political emancipation. We all know that without a revolutionary theory there can never be a revolutionary movement.

The revolutionary theory guides the Party against opportunism of all types. The Party therefore must, at all times, be at constant war against opportunism and making a serious effort to apply in practice its revolutionary theory.

We therefore can’t wait for the Party to be big and strong and then hammer out our theoretical position about the historical mission of the working class. This strategic position and this aim must to clearly understood and fought for from the very inception of the Party of the working class.

Therefore the forthcoming 10th Congress must confirm, hammer out and clarify the theoretical positions of the party and chart the revolutionary activity needed in today’s specific conditions in order to build and strengthen the Party, win political support and bring a bit closer the day of the fulfillment of the historical mission of the working class.

It must contribute significantly to the effort of building in Australia a militant contingent of the international communist movement. That is building a true revolutionary Party of the working class, a party capable of leading the working class and its allies in decisive action with the aim of winning power, establishing a people’s government, as the first step towards a socialist government and setting in motion tie process for the development of socialism and the transition to the communist society.

Steve Mavrantonis
Sydney, NSW

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