The pro-Beijing newspaper, Ta Kung Pao, recently ran a front-page attack on pro-democracy legislator Leung Kwok-hung (known as 'Long Hair') and Socialist Action.
This propaganda piece in a daily newspaper infamous as a Hong Kong mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) dictatorship, comes as Hong Kong's struggle for democracy enters a crucial phase in the run up to the annual 1 July mega-demonstration against the government. The Chinese regime is stepping up its psychological warfare against 'political instability' and 'illegal' demands for free elections in Hong Kong.
Socialist Action is seeking legal advice over the article's slanderous nature, a hallmark of this newspaper, while at the same time conducting a vigorous political campaign to expose its lies.
The newspaper falsely claims 'Long Hair', who is currently serving a four-week jail sentence on trumped up political charges, masterminded the creation of Socialist Action in 2010 to be a more extreme force in the democracy struggle.
Absurd accusations and slanders of this type run throughout the article, which tries to whip up fear of "foreign forces" (the CWI). Ta Kung Pao accuses the CWI of advocating "very violent methods" and accuses its sections in Brazil, Sweden and Turkey of fomenting riots last year.
Ta Kung Pao's concern over violence is worthy of an 'Oscar' given its silence over the military massacre of protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989. It attacked this year's 180,000-strong commemoration of the 4 June massacre victims as an "act of national betrayal".
The article rails against Trotskyism which it describes in quasi-Maoist language as an "ultra-left, violent" political trend: "Many countries regard them as extremist organisations second only to terrorism". It attacks the theory of permanent revolution, which it converts into a doctrine of 'permanent rioting'.
In reality, the permanent revolution is Leon Trotsky's brilliant conception of how the capitalists in colonial and semi-colonial countries are incapable of solving the problems left over from feudal society, such as achieving parliamentary democracy and national unification.
Hong Kong, China and many other parts of Asia are living proof of the correctness of Trotsky's theory, which explains why workers need to organise a mass socialist alternative and not leave the struggle against dictatorship or foreign imperialist domination to any wing of the capitalists.
Ta Kung Pao's article is part of a wider CCP propaganda offensive to discredit the most radical sections of the democracy struggle. The aim is to link 'Long Hair' with the CWI and tar both with the brush of 'violence' and 'political extremism'. Among the more outrageous accusations, it claims that Socialist Action cooperates with Civic Passion, a right-wing 'nativist' (Hong Kong nationalist) group which conducts a vicious smear campaign against Socialist Action.
In contrast, while representing different political organisations and programmes, Socialist Action and 'Long Hair' have cooperated in many struggles for workers' rights and against the Chinese dictatorship.
The CCP's propaganda offensive is linked to the more charged political situation in Hong Kong and China. It is clearer than ever that Beijing has no intention of allowing free elections (universal suffrage) in Hong Kong in 2017 as people were once led to believe (but Socialist Action warned would not be the case).
Instead a rehash of the current 'controlled' election model is being served up, causing widespread anger. China's state council (cabinet) has unveiled a white paper on Hong Kong that spells out that the territory's "high autonomy is not full autonomy".
This document, unprecedented since the 1997 handover (from Britain), is widely seen as the Chinese regime putting its foot down over demands for greater democracy. Its publication follows a string of warnings by pro-government politicians that martial law could be imposed in Hong Kong and China state troops deployed to quell protests.
At the same time, the capitalist democratic opposition parties (pan democrats) have enormously complicated the democracy struggle through their desire to avoid and limit mass struggle and pin all their hopes on a compromise with the CCP.
Ta Kung Pao's attack is, for all its venom, a twisted recognition of the impact Socialist Action is having and the Chinese dictatorship's fear of socialist ideas. The article mentions the 2011 District Council election campaign when Socialist Action ran Sally Tang Mei-Ching as a candidate, and even mentions that she went to Taiwan on Socialist Action's behalf during the mass 'sunflower' protest movement earlier this year.
While Ta Kung Pao is highly discredited in Hong Kong as a newspaper kept afloat by CCP money, there's no escaping the implicit threat in its attack on CWI members. Hong Kong and China are moving into stormy times and the dictatorship is identifying and vilifying its political enemies.
Rather than being intimidated, however, socialists will be even more determined to fight for genuine democracy, including a democratic and publicly owned media, and to build mass organisations of the working class and the youth, to finish off capitalism and dictatorship.