FRESH AIR

The Larouchites heart China

Jun 9, 2020 | Judy Maynard

Australian Citizen's Party head Craig Isherwood
Australian Citizen's Party head Craig Isherwood

 

The Chinese government, which has been in the news rather a lot lately and for all the wrong reasons, has a fervent local admirer. The obscure Australian Citizens Party (ACP) – a small but financially potent cult-like political grouping –  could not be more unquestioningly supportive were it a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The CCP has faced a barrage of international criticism for its less than transparent disclosures regarding the spread of COVID-19 which may well have led to a worsening of the crisis at massive cost to human lives and livelihoods. Far from taking a backward step it has chosen to ramp up tension with Australia through threats and childish insults, and followed up by imposing massive tariffs on Australian barley.

The CCP’s actions are seen by many as retaliation for the Australian government’s call for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus. But in the eyes of the ACP it seems the Chinese government can do no wrong.

If the name “Australian Citizens Party” rings no bells this may be because it is the recently rebadged version of the only slightly less obscure Citizens Electoral Council (CEC), a shadowy presence on the Australian political landscape since 1989. It was established as the antipodean arm of the LaRouche Movement, founded in the US by the late paranoid conspiracy theorist and convicted fraudster Lyndon LaRouche.

The party is extraordinarily cashed up for such an insignificant party – according to disclosures to the Australian Electoral Commission, the party took in $1,880,326 in 2018-2019, an amount dwarfing the finances of numerous parties with actual federal parliamentary representation such as Katter’s Australia party, the Jackie Lambie network and the Centre Alliance. Moreover, the party has consistently pulled in similar amounts over the past decade.

Yet having taken numerous tilts at the polls, electoral success has completely eluded the CEC. Nonetheless, the group soldiers on, trying to influence politicians through mass submissions, media releases and letter-writing, and also running a weekly TV program on community television.

LaRouche’s political philosophy was changeable, if not incoherent, but also often antisemitic –  though less overtly so in later years. In this as in all aspects, the CEC closely followed its American parent. In 1996 the Australia/Israel Review (AIR) published a detailed expose of the CEC’s sinister targeting of Jewish individuals and organisations.

In its defence of China the ACP continues this mimicry of the line of its US parent. The Larouche Political Action Committee has recently published articles on its website with such headings as “China Deserves Praise and Cooperation in the Fight against the Coronavirus”, “No, China Didn’t Steal Your Dreams” and “Anti-China McCarthyism Reaching Pre-War Levels”.

Taking a similar approach in Australia the ACP asks “Why all the fuss over Chinese interference?”; reassures us that “China does not own most of Australia” (not that any serious commentator has suggested this); offers “More refutations of ‘China debt-trap’ allegations” and cheers on “China’s moon landing [as] another giant leap for mankind”.

Meanwhile, China’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which many commentators see as an attempt to use infrastructure investments to gain political and economic leverage over smaller countries, is, according to the ACP, “an effort to share the benefits of large-scale infrastructure development and connectivity with the rest of the world.” In addition, allegations of human rights abuses against Beijing are “fake”; while in the South China Sea, China is the victim, with its shipping lanes put at risk by “Anglo-American provocations.”

On all these contentious issues, the ACP airily dismisses criticism and accepts China’s version without question or evidence. For example, regarding accusations “ad nauseam, of foreign interference through political donations, computer hacking, influence over universities, and the secretive loyalty of a large percentage of Australia’s ethnic Chinese community” the ACP says it “has examined these allegations closely and found them to be either baseless—especially the McCarthyite insinuations against Chinese-Australians—or little different to what all countries have always done.”

Where unflattering facts are incontrovertible, the ACP resorts to nonsense such as this: “Australia’s political class is quick to criticise the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for its control of China, but when it comes to foreign policy, Australia is no less a one-party state.”

In response to worldwide condemnation of China’s behaviour in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic which began in Wuhan, the ACP dismisses the CCP’s pattern right from the start of suppressing information as simply “mistakes”, before turning on those it accuses of spreading false anti-China propaganda.

The ACP, like the CEC before it, relentlessly criticises the governments and perceived powerbrokers of Australia and her allies, while praising and absolving those of nations which are sometimes their adversaries.

Ultimately, the ACP’s willingness to go to bat for China as well as Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Syria, no matter how far-fetched the argument, is not necessarily about any genuinely held regard for those regimes. These are merely pretexts for attacking LaRouche’s – and its – eternal “Anglo-American” nemesis, the font of all evil in his conspiratorial worldview. The term “Anglo-American” is repeated continuously throughout LaRouchian literature and prefixed widely: to elites, empire, establishment, manipulation,  warmongers, war party, war schemes, neocon apparatus or other similar loony formulations. Australia is attacked repeatedly for its subservience to its Anglo-American masters.

For example, the ACP tells us that “Australians must face the fact that Iran and China are not threatening the world, we are. It is our responsibility as citizens to demand our government withdraw from the Anglo-American regime-change agenda, assert a truly independent foreign policy, and support a new international economic order based on sovereign nation-states respecting each other’s sovereignty, but cooperating on economic development that can lift the world out of poverty.”

Depicting Iran and China as examples of nation-states respecting the sovereignty of other nation-states would doubtless surprise the people of Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Tibet, and Taiwan to name a few.

Conflict has always driven the narrative of Lyndon LaRouche’s zany but far from harmless political cult. Although none of his doom-laden predictions, such as those of imminent global financial collapse (repeated virtually annually) or the onset of a third world war, eventuated, his feverish pronouncements captivated his flock. The same methods continue to be employed by his Australian disciples, as are the hard-sell, aggressive fund-raising methods learnt from the US-based parent organisation.

LaRouche’s fantastical conspiracy theories, such as those portraying the Queen of England as a drug trafficker and Prince Philip as a terrorist operating behind the façade of the World Wildlife Fund, mean his movement must constantly target establishment bodies and individuals.

This is why the CCP and other regimes whose characteristics are often antithetical to our political system are constantly held up as examples and defended by the local LaRouchians. It doesn’t matter that their depiction of these regimes is not only one-dimensional but largely fictitious, as they merely serve as a cardboard backdrop against which the ACP can contrast the supposed villainy of Australia and her allies, while projecting itself as a future saviour of the world.

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