The Guardian

The Guardian June 7, 2000

Culture and Life

by Rob Gowland

Ideological progress

We were walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge with a couple of hundred 
thousand other people in the Walk for Reconciliation. We were carrying CPA 
placards advocating "Reconciliation plus Land Rights".

A woman came up through the crowd behind us pushing a stroller. She turned 
as she passed us and checked our placards to see who we were. "Communist 
Party", she said brightly, and smiled.

Indicating the child in the stroller, she said: "We started out with the 
Catholics, then we were with the Uniting Church, and now we're Commies."

Again she smiled and moved on. Ideologically, one could certainly say she 
was progressing in the right direction!

* * *
Revolutionary fervour
Lack of work and the deliberate cutting back of dole payments on any and every flimsy excuse means many young people cannot sustain the renting of a house. Two of my sons have just been given notice to quit by their landlord, unimpressed by their struggle to pay the $200 a week he demanded as rent for a semi-derelict old weatherboard house with loo and bathroom out back. They have been obliged to move in with my third son, in a two bedroom house that used to belong to my mother. At least they will not be homeless, the fate of so many other unfortunate victims of this ruthless, degenerate system, that punishes those for whom it cannot provide work. To make room for the boys' collections of books and videos, I have been removing books of mine or ones that belonged to my parents. Among them were volumes of Lenin that my parents had before the War. There had been more, but they were seized by the police during Illegality and not all were returned after the Party regained its legal status. These volumes must have been loaned to other comrades for study purposes, because on the flyleaf of one my father has written his name and the admonition: "It is the duty of revolutionaries to preserve the works of the masters. The condition of this book, when returned, will indicate the degree of students' revolutionary fervour!" They must have been fervent: the book is in excellent condition.
* * *
Loot from the USSR
One of my Party colleagues went to an antiques fair in Sydney the other weekend. Among items on sale was a Soviet flag, one of the elaborate red velvet ones with a picture of Lenin on it, the flag fringed with gold and mounted on a gold-tipped pole. There is one like it in the Central Committee room at CPA headquarters. The one at the Antique Fair was a trifling $1800. The item was regarded as "Soviet kitsch" and sold to "collectors". Such banners were presented on special occasions. They weren't made to be sold. They are not antiques or collectables. They are loot loot from the class war. Like the portraits and other paintings of the Soviet era that have been flogged off by the new rulers of the former Soviet Union, they will one day have to be returned to their proper place, restored to the Soviet people.
* * *
Changing the course of history
This week, the ABC is screening a documentary film The Last Plane Out Of Berlin, about Australian-born adventurer Sidney Cotton. The son of a Queensland squatter, Cotton became an aviator and an aerial spy. He worked for both France's Deuxieme Bureau and Britain's MI6. Before the War he took photograph's over Germany with hidden cameras in the belly of his private plane. Aviation and class gave him entree to top Nazis like Goering and Kesselring. He acted as go-between in secret negotiations between Goering and Neville Chamberlain. Jeff Watson's film claims that his last flight to Berlin, just before the Nazis marched into Poland, "could have changed the course of history". Cotton was to have taken Goering to London for talks with Chamberlain. The plan went awry and Cotton was apparently lucky to get out alive. But even if he had taken fat Herman to London, it would not have averted the War. War had become inevitable when capitalism turned to fostering fascism as a means of combatting the spread of communism, for as the slogan of the time so rightly put it: "Fascism means war". For all Neville Chamberlain's talk of "Peace for our time" (incidentally, not "peace in our time"), his interest and that of his government was in encouraging Hitler to go to war in the East, against the Soviet Union. If Hitler cleaned up the Bolshevik contagion then the concessions made to him by the West would have been money well spent, especially as it was really being spent by sacrificing the lives of Spaniards, Austrians, Poles, Czechs and many others.

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