Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Unionists for Palestine Day of Action

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Unionists for Palestine Day of Action march,  Fremantle, Western Australia

by Owen Hsieh

The Unionists for Palestine WA had a well-attended public event in Fremantle on Saturday the 25th of May, starting with a public rally at Walyalup Koort Park before marching through the streets of Fremantle, past the Zim Shipping local agent - Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) to finish outside the Fremantle Port.

The action in WA was part of a day of action and was linked to coordinated events in every port in Australia, calling for an end to Israeli military aggression and attempting to aid the Palestinian people against genocide.

Approximately 250 people attended the rally and listened to presentations from a range of different speakers from the Friends of Palestine WA, the Greens, the NTEU, CFMEU, etc.

During the march, the protestors chanted slogans such as: ‘Ceasefire Now’, ‘Free Free Palestine’, and ‘Israel you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide’.

When going past the MSC building, protestors were met with performative protest from an unidentified group. Playing dead, the protestors lay on the floor covered in fake blood, and held a large sign that read “No Business with Genocide – Drop Zim Shipping Now’, but this action was quickly and vigorously shut down by the WA police force with move on notices etc as the protestors were blocking the doors of the MSC building and impeding business as usual.  The protest was a healthy sign for optimism, despite the bad weather a lot of people came out to show their support for Palestinian national self-determination and an end to the war. The protestors spoke with a lot of admiration for the global student movement and the local Curtin University occupation encampment.

But notwithstanding their willingness to protest, and even put their bodies on the line in the case of the MSC shipping protestors, the event was plagued with liberal illusions that the ruling class who currently support Israel’s war offensive would recognise the protest movement, bow to public pressure and support the call for a ceasefire, and that the powerful business interests in Australia would ‘do the right thing’ and either divest from, or refuse to continue to do business with Israeli military interests (i.e. the plea for MSC to drop Zim Shipping as a client).

Appeals to the morality of the bourgeois are a dead end. No Bourgeoise, at any time in any society, has ever given up its wealth, privilege, and status; or Trotsky once wrote – ‘No devil yet ever voluntarily cut off its own claws.’

In the context of Australia, it is a liberal illusion that the bourgeois will voluntarily give up their lucrative business relationship with the vicious Israeli apartheid settler state. It’s not for nothing that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong, have long been opponents of the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement in Australia.

Marxists substitute the well-meaning, but misguided moral criticism that is a hallmark of liberalism with the program of class struggle. It is only by seeking to overthrow the rotten capitalist political order that we can bring about an end to war and destruction. There is no need to appeal to the hearts and minds of the bourgeois, it is ultimately about the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoise. It is imperative to connect the popular desire for peace with the aim of social revolution and begin to substitute our own slogans with those of the lame phraseology of the liberal pacifists.