Say No to AUKUS

In this piece I’ll be examining AUKUS and how it relates to, and is a product of, the system that the working class of the world currently suffers under. I’ll also be touching on some larger topics such as China, the relevance of AUKUS to us here in Aotearoa, and the big question – What is to be done? 

Understanding the nature of AUKUS and its context is incredibly important if we want to defeat this capitalist system of exploitation and create a better world.

What officially is AUKUS?

AUKUS is a “security” partnership between (presently) Australia, the UK, and the US. It was formed in 2021 for the main reason of getting Australia to develop a nuclear submarine programme. The cost to Australia would be incredible; the equivalent of up to some $400 billion NZD, according to RNZ. For context that’s nearly New Zealand’s entire GDP, as of 2022 figures. This programme is not AUKUS’s entire official purpose however. It is also a mechanism for cooperation in a number of different military areas, including: innovation and information sharing, electronic warfare, artificial intelligence, and quite a few others. Through spokespeople and mainstream news responses, it is clear that the US and its imperialist partners wish for this alliance to be viewed as a sensible defensive agreement that will insure stability and safety for the people of the region. This is, of course, not the case. 

What is AUKUS really

To put it bluntly, AUKUS is just another instance of imperialist, capitalist, chest beating by the current dominant capitalist power, the US, aimed at China which is seen as its main competitor within global capitalism. This chest beating serves more than the obvious purpose of intimidating or “deterring” a potential rival. Hyping up the threat of China serves as a pretext to the continued exploitation of both the working class and the resources of the planet we live on. With all these military alliances or “cooperation agreements” being formed, and threats, escalations and de-escalations being fired back and forth, a convenient smoke screen is created for the capitalist class to hide behind. What do they do behind this smoke screen of their own design? National security is invoked to funnel trillions of dollars into defence contracts. That money, created by the labour of the working class, ends up in the bank accounts of capitalist investors in military production.

It is important to note that every time the US government decides to spend $800 billion of their tax payers’ money (those taxpayers being, in their overwhelming majority, working class) it is going directly into the hands of privately-owned weapons manufacturers. 

The capitalist class also uses this hyper-militarism and competition as an excuse to pillage and pollute our struggling planet. As long as the demand for fuel for thousands upon thousands warships, fighter jets, tanks, missiles, and other weapons of war is kept up, then so are the profits of the capitalist class. They’ll keep burning this planet until there’s nothing left but their bunkers and their bank accounts. AUKUS is a capitalist military formation to be used not only against competitors, but also against the working class and the planet. That is, unless socialists help develop the class consciousness of the workers to the extent that they see past this ruse and collectively take action.  

What about China?

The ever increasing arms build-up of the US and its allies encourages China to continue upping its own military spending. While China certainly operates under a different flavour of capitalism, a mix of private and state capitalism, it operates under capitalism nonetheless. This means that as China continues to increase its military spending under the guise of its own chest beating, it is extracting money from its own working class and exploiting the environment to sustain its own expanding war machine. This is testament to the need for a global socialist revolution and international socialism. 

Relevance to Aotearoa 

Under the previous Labour Party government, and continuing to the current coalition government, it was agreed that New Zealand would explore the potential benefits of joining Pillar 2 of AUKUS; that being membership of AUKUS, but not contributing nuclear submarines. However, Aotearoa would be pressured by the US and the rest of AUKUS to increase military spending, thus funnelling more of the working class’s taxes into the pockets of defence industry capitalists. 

As armourer to the Israelis, the US is currently engaged in one of the world’s most blatant and well-documented genocides. Aside from anything else, do we want to just ignore this disgusting crime and hop right into bed with the US? I think not.

What is to be done?

The answer to that question is frankly anything and everything we can. If Aotearoa joins AUKUS, as it seems the US wants us to do, we would be participating in the ongoing imperialist cycle of militarism, destruction, deaths for the many and profits for the few. Joining AUKUS must be opposed at every turn, using all methods available to us. We must protest, disrupt, and fight any attempt to bring us closer to AUKUS membership. In terms of longer term action, we must educate those around us and do our very best to develop class consciousness within the mass of workers. Our enemy is not the working classes of rival capitalist nations, but our own ruling class. It is they who we must strive to defeat.