Communist Worker

Archive of Communist Workers Group of Aoteaora/New Zealand up to 2006

Archive for the ‘Argentina’ Category

600 Air New Zealand jobs under attack

with one comment

The Alliance came out with some radical ideas about worker occupations and workers control in response to the threat of job losses at Air NZ. CWG acknowledged these good ideas and took them further

In an article on Aotearoa Indymedia on 27 October titled “Creative destruction” by Air New Zealand’ Len Richards of the Alliance wrote:

“The announcement by Air New Zealand of the sacking of a highly skilled workforce is a massive disinvestment in New Zealand. If the government will not act, the workers can. They should take a leaf out of the Argentinean workers’ book and occupy the maintenance hangers to keep them going.

Six hundred workers are to be thrown onto the economic scrapheap by Air New Zealand. The company, which is 82 per cent government-owned, has decided to transfer the heavy maintenance of its aircraft off-shore to Europe and Asia. This is expected to save $100 million over the next five years (ie $20 million a year on average). This is a company that made $250 million profit this year and expects to make $100 million next year. The redundancy costs will be $13 million.

Air New Zealand claims it cannot find enough work for all its maintenance engineers. Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Cullen, washed his hands of the announcement, saying that it is “company business”. This is the government welcomed by the Council of Trade Unions as having a “commitment to an investment approach to economic and social development”. The announcement by Air New Zealand of the sacking of a highly skilled workforce is a massive disinvestment in New Zealand. It is reminiscent of the closure of the railway workshops in the early 1990s which destroyed a similarly skilled workforce and dismantled another significant section of this country’s industrial infrastructure. The CTU must demand that the government intervenes to prevent this act of economic vandalism. . .

. . .The newly elected Labour-led coalition government should act urgently and “creatively”. It must step in to take direct control of Air New Zealand. These jobs can be saved if the government has the will to do so. If the government will not act, the workers can. They should take a leaf out of the Argentinean workers’ book and occupy the maintenance hangers to keep them going.

The loss of these engineering jobs is completely unnecessary. It is not about the engineering operation losing money. It is all about return on capital. It is about extracting more profit to ready Air New Zealand for another round of privatisation. The company chairman John Palmer is blatantly promoting a sell-down of the government’s shares. The government would do better to take-over the whole company. It could be run as a peoples’ co-operative under the control of the workers who, after all, know better than anyone how to operate the enterprise most efficiently.”

CWG replies:

“Good point about the management preparing Air NZ for re-privatisation. And the NZ economy as ‘third world’ being driven down the drain by profit. This shows a grasp of the seriousness of NZ’s decline in the world and the need for a strong socialist stand to lead the way forward. Air NZs predicament is classic and opens the way for the nationalising of assets and trading with other third world countries as the only way to combat monopoly capitalism.

The demand right now should be to take up the workers criticisms of failed management and put the company under workers control. Opening the books to the EPMU heads won’t prove anything other than cost cutting is necessary to return a profit. Profit in a state owned company should be rejected as the bottom line. The bottom line should be the public interest in a national asset build out of the labour of generations of kiwi workers.

So the demand should be to put the company under workers control and management to protect the accumulated wealth of workers as well the ‘public interest’. Why should the 600 workers under threat of sacking put up with a state owned corp run by private sector cost cutters who destroy the skill base of the working class while they strut around in Zambezi gear?

The rising costs of fuel and airports are inevitable while we are subjected to monopoly capital. Nationalisation under workers control (with no compensation especially after all those massive state subsidies!) is the answer. The airports should all be renationalised. The big oil company assets in NZ should be nationalised and oil sourced from Venezuela in a swap for food and agricultural technology.

While it’s necessary to demand that Cullen puts up a fight to keep these jobs, we know that he won’t even consider it unless put under huge pressure from workers. The 82% state shareholding is just a subsidy to the private sector. He won’t want to see the company profits fall and more subsidies being paid out when he wants to keep business on side.”

0n how to fight for occupations and workers’ control we added:

“It’s good that the Alliance has raised the example of the occupations in Argentina. Kirchner’s just been re-elected. He is a left Peronist with official union support not too dissimilar to Labour in NZ. But neither has any interest to take-over companies and run them as workers’ cooperatives. Cullen has said he will not subsidise Air NZ jobs. They HAVE to keep onside with global monopoly capital.

That’s why the solution has to be posed right from the start as a workers’ solution that workers’ can only do INDEPENDENTLY of the bosses’ state. So where to start at Air NZ?

The current Blairite partnership approach goes through the charade of the union officials doing their own audit for two months to see what cuts they can make the workers accept to keep some of their jobs. The EPMU logo is some for all, all for some. Meanwhile workers will be left out of the picture, worrying, or looking for other jobs.

This is the same blackmail that the US unions are using right now to force autoworkers to sacrifice their health insurance in the vain hope they can keep their jobs. As long as the union officials share the same view that companies must be profitable at all costs, the workers are the losers. see

The rank and file engineers need to organise now and take the dispute out of the hands of the EPMU officials. They need to reject the bottom line of profit, and the payment of a dividend to the state that goes straight into the consolidated fund to run the capitalist system. Anyway as an SOE Air NZ is doomed as a national carrier in this global environment and will be gobbled up by Qantas or Singapore sooner or later.

Instead the rank and file should put up a new bottom line – the workers’ need for safe, reliable air transport that can survive the oil shocks (get the oil from Venezuela!) and the race to the bottom of cutthroat (ours!) international airline competition. The engineers would have a say in whether it’s good for the peoples’ airline to buy carbon fibre planes at $170 million a pop.

That’s why Venezuela is a better map than Argentina of the socialist road. The factory occupations there are taking place as part of a society wide revolution where workers are pushing Chavez further and further towards outright expropriation. Oil, paper, gas, steel, and land is being nationalised and a huge fight is going on to turn co-management into real workers’ control. The result is that there is a better chance that when Chavez finally baulks, or if the US invades, the workers will be able to defend and complete their socialist revolution.

The great thing is that Venezuela is not a blueprint but an ongoing experiment, and it exists in the flesh and is not fated in advance to be either a pie in the sky reformist utopia, or a discredited Cuban style Stalinist regime. It is an open book where the workers are doing the reading and writing.

A page or two would go down well at Air NZ right now. A campaign to renationalise Air NZ under workers control could be generalised to extend to Telecom, Toll rail, CHH, BNZ . 

From Class Struggle 64 Nov 05/Jan 06

Written by raved

January 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Latin America: Garrahan [Argentina] fights for all Latin America

leave a comment »

In Argentina today a crucial struggle at the hospital of Garrahan for a monthly wage of $1800 is underway. It is a struggle that can be won by the workers but only if they break with the treacherous leaders of the unions, and the sellout ‘left’ parties that serve the bureaucratic bloc in the WSF containing all the struggles in Latin America behind popular front or Bonapartist regimes posing as popular, anti-imperialist governments. Condensed from Workers Democracy 9/8/05

Imperialism has contained the struggles for now

Imperialism and the pro-imperialist bourgeoisies of Latin America have won a breathing space. The working masses and farmers who only months ago, overthrew with their revolutionary action Mesa in Bolivia and Gutiérrez in Ecuador, have been contained momentarily.

In Bolivia, the World Social Forum led by Chávez and Castro, Evo Morales, Solares, Quispe, and the liquidators of Trotskyism that today play the role once played by the old Communist Parties of Latin America, have forced a truce with the government of Rodriguez and the Bolivian bosses’ regime. By this means they prevented the creation of a dual power organ of the workers and farmers and of a centralized militia, and blocked the recalling of the national congress of delegates of the Original Popular Assembly.

By this means they legitimated the illegitimate government of Rodriguez and the puppet parliament of the mine owners. They reversed everything that the masses had done in 16 days of heroic struggle, and made a truce until the elections in December. For that reason, in El Alto and La Paz, there are appearing graffiti saying “Solares you sold out” and “Robert De La Cruz we will hang you” (a reference to the Castroite labor leader Solares, and Roberto de la Cruz, a leader of the COR of El Alto).

All of them, as a continental bloc, supported Palacios – the successor of Gutiérrez- in Ecuador. The result: today Palacios sent the army to ruthlessly repress the masses that rose up in Amazonia, taking 200 oil wells, confronting the Western Yankee monopoly (Oxy) that robs petroleum from them, paying $12 a barrel which it then sells for almost $70! More than 60 were injured and the army remains occupying Amazonia: [See Venezuelan oil workers statement above] This is the result of the suppression of the revolution in Bolivia and the fight of the Ecuadorian masses!

The new treachery that the workers in Latin America face has important consequences. For the Central American workers, the region has been transformed by the US under CAFTA into an enormous assembly plant with the complicity of Ortega (leader of Nicaraguan Sandinistas), Shafik Handal (leader of the Salvadoran FMLN) and all the old “commanders” living today as yuppies, servants of the restorationist Castro bureaucracy.

For the Chilean workers, it means the slavery and the flexibilisation of work under the TLC. This is the “anti-neoliberal model” of Lula, Kirchner, Chávez, Tabaré Vázquez and other servants of imperialism, and the one supported by the reformist left of WSF that back these agents of imperialism! For that reason, imperialism and the national bourgeoisies can breathe freely again.

In Argentina the struggle has been strangled

In Argentina, the big wave of workers fights for higher wages, that began last December, including the Telephone, Subway, rail, education, public sector and metal workers, was strangled by keeping the disputes divided, with separate contracts, and inflation destroying any wage gains. Meanwhile, with poverty line pensions and Work Plans [work for the dole] and with public sector workers wages frozen, with the health and education budgets the lowest ever, the bosses are raking off a huge fiscal surplus to pay the IMF external debt on time.

Thanks to this treachery of the union bureaucracy of the CGT and the CTA, which once more could count on the collaboration of the reformist left (that was thrust into the leadership by the workers in those fights), today the bourgeoisie breathes easier and admits that it ” continues to do good business”

Under these conditions, the struggle of the workers of the Garrahan is at the head of the fightback and faces the concerned attack of the employer’s association, the government and the union bureaucracy.

The reformist left met this attack by opposing all independent class actions opposed to the hated regime of the social pact. It destroyed, as soon as it was born, the Intersyndical, an attempt to link all sectors in struggle such as the Subway workers, because it challenged the bureaucracy to break the wage freeze imposed by the employer’s association and backed by the union bureaucracy. . .

The World Social Forum promotes ‘democratic’ imperialism

It is the left of the World Social Forum, that made the truce with Palacios in Ecuador and Rodriguez in Bolivia; that is now led by the supposedly “nationalistic” Colonel Chávez, who supplies Venezuelan oil to the US despite the US massacre in Iraq, and who has not threatened the interests of the rich 31 families in Venezuela or the imperialist monopolies that control the Venezuelan economy.

It is the same left of the WSF that trusts the Parliamentary Commissions for “investigating” the class traitor Lula, the greatest servant of the Brazilian bourgeoisie and of imperialism in Latin America. The same left which with Tabaré Vázquez and the Communist Party of Uruguay, is ready to pardon the genocidal military in that country today, as Menem did in Argentina yesterday.

Thus, this policy of continental class collaboration tries to throw water on the fire of revolution to defeat the masses, so that the multinational companies and finance capital can retain in control of the hydrocarbons, and other resources and super-exploit the masses of our continent and oppress our nations.

But to successfully put out the fire, they need the renegade Trotskyists and their parties – that for decades in Latin American led the combative proletariat – to be used like “squeezed lemons” to sell to the most militant workers this bosses’ politics of oppression and plunder.

We are thus witnessing in Latin America the cynical and treacherous politics of class collaboration promoted by the Castro bureaucracy and all the liquidators of the Trotskyists Fourth International who have gone into the popular struggles armed with their collaborationist programs to contain the proletarian revolution.

The Resistance Continues!

But, just as in Iraq, the heroic resistance continues. The laws of history are stronger than any political apparatus, and will not leave unpunished the currents that in the name of the proletariat have gone over to prop up the citadels of power of the enemy, their states and regimes, promoting the “peaceful road to socialism”, calling to fight for “what is possible”, and supporting “from the left” all the collaborationist union bureaucracies of the continent, hated by the masses.

At the same time, a picket has been set up in front of the ranch of Bush in Texas, United States. There, hundreds of demonstrators spend days and nights, next to the mother of a soldier who died in Iraq, who blames Bush for his death and demands the immediate return of the troops. It is a symbol, a symptom of the awakening of the North American working class. In this awakening, which can bring about –along with the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses – a new defeat of its own imperialistic bourgeoisie, which as in Vietnam, and open up the way out for the working class and the exploited people of Latin America.

They confront and resist the deceptions, the traps and the frauds of the treacherous leaders of the workers organisations, showing the way for the revolutionary movement. It is the Trotskyists, refounding the [Trotskyist] Fourth International that will rub the tinder to create the spark that sets the prairie on fire. . . .

Garrahan is the rallying call of the workers!

“They are too left”, “they follow political objectives”, “They cause too much discord”, “are politicized”, “they will not enter dialogue”, “they are terrorists”, are the way the bosses’ politicians try to discredit and isolate the heroic fight of the Garrahan workers and to the militant piquetero movement [unemployed], in order to defeat these workers in struggle. Cynical gangsters!

These are the people who are going to bring to Argentina in November, the greatest terrorist in the world, the genocidal Bush, while every day they serve him in the super-exploitation of the oppressed nation! This is the government and the employer’s association that “are radicalized” against workers who request a miserable basic wage to be able to scratch a living from the family shopping basket while they work all their lives in the Hospital!

They are those who “are radicalized”, paying to the IMF thousands of million dollars a year, and favoring the businesses of the slave driving employer’s association! They are campaigning in the election “making politics” against the workers to boost their profits! And the workers have no right to fight politically for a living wage! No more begging! No more asking for permission to strike! No more any obligation to explain ourselves! . . .

The working class must win Garrahan!

The victory of Garrahan must be the victory of the whole working class. What this heroic fight and all the others underway need is a true and authentic class politics that opposes the regime and the government of the exploiters and its policy of wage slavery and sacking. It is a political fight in defense of public health and public education whose budgets have been plundered to pay to the IMF. For that reason, to win sufficient spending on health and education, wages, work, etc., it is necessary to confront and defeat the economic plan of the government, the employer’s association and the IMF, uniting the struggles of the Garrahan with those of the teachers and university students who mobilized themselves in their tens of thousands in Cordoba and which are conducting militant campaigns in Mendoza and other provinces.

· All to the Garrahan to coordinate now!

· Enough! Out with all the bosses and the traitors!

Yesterday, thousands of workers in Brazil marched against the treacherous Lula to the shout of “the workers speak: out with all the bosses and the traitors!”.

This is the shout that we must raise today in the militant vanguard of the Argentine working class, and this is the commitment of the international Trotskyists of Workers Democracy.

· Living wages and real work for all!

· For a basic wage of $1800 and month and real jobs for all!

· For a national committee of struggle to defeat the union bureaucracy!

· For a Plan of Action and a National Strike!

Article Condensed from:
WORKERS DEMOCRACY Nº 9 9th August 2005

From Class Struggle 63 Sept/Oct 2005

Written by raved

January 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

Chavez, Venezuela, oil and workers control

leave a comment »

 Nationalize Big Oil, Trade with Venezuela!

Even before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast of the US the oil companies had put their prices up. Oil rose to over US$70 a barrel. It is a finite, non-renewable source of energy. Intense competition for oil is behind the invasion of Iraq and the instability in central Asia. It underlies the tension between Venezuela and the US. So the crisis over peak oil is symptomatic of capitalism in deep shits. Capitalism cannot solve this crisis without massive destruction. It is necessary to work out a strategy for the socialization of oil and other privately owned resources so that a global socialist planned economy can arise to rescue humanity and the planet from total destruction.

The Oil Crisis is Capitalism’s Crisis

Oil is a key input into industry and necessary for the survival of capitalism. No substitute is capable of stepping into the role oil plays without a huge jump in the cost of production. Therefore the imperialist countries driven by Big Oil will pursue increasingly aggressive policies to get control of this diminishing supply. We face a future of rapid decent into wars and destruction of whole populations such as Iraq (and on a smaller scale working class New Orleans) unless we challenge the ownership and control of capitalism.

The future alternative to capitalism is socialism. But it is unlikely to come in one sudden rush. We need to look for ways to make the transition to socialism by first regulating and controlling the market, and then moving progressively toward the nationalization and socialization of the major resources, industries and banks under the ownership and control of workers’ governments.

In Latin America we can see a level of resistance to capitalist globalization and its destruction that points the way towards this alternative socialist future. In Argentina in 2001 the population rebelled against neo-liberal austerity and threw out the government forcing a default on the national debt. In Bolivia the masses are in a state of almost permanent revolt against oil companies exploiting the gas resources. In Brazil the government of Lula is in crisis because it has not met its promises to its worker supporters. In Chile there has been mass resistance to the FTA with the US.

Venezuela creates an opportunity

Most significant, in Venezuela there is a left populist government able to use its oil wealth to force through some changes to the global oil market. Chavez has introduced cheap oil for the Caribbean and other Latin American countries, and done a bilateral deal with China. He has also made some of the oil companies change their contracts and enter joint ventures on terms more favorable to Venezuela.

While these are important steps in the attempt to find alternatives to the dominance of the oil majors, they are as yet small steps. The states concerned are not directly challenging the fundamental interests of the oil companies –their ability to set the prices and profits of the oil industry even though they may not technically own the oil fields. That is, Venezuela’s oil may be nationalized but it is not yet socialized in the hands of the masses of workers and peasants of that country.

Nationalization is not Socialization

Nationalized property remains the property of the capitalist state and the capitalist class as a whole. That’s why nationalization often acts to subsidize private profits against workers interests. This can be seen from the fact that Chavez continues to supply oil to the US which can use it for its military machine in Iraq. Chavez has also recently offered oil to make up the loss of production resulting from a strike by Ecuadorian state oil workers, drawing a rebuke from Venezuelan state oil workers. And in order to guarantee production Chavez backs no-strike legislation against state workers in Argentina and at home. Similarly, Iraq’s oil remains nationalized, but that does not stop the oil majors from raking off massive profits through controlling the production and marketing of Iraqi oil, and of running the oil fields under military occupation.

The goal in Venezuela (and Bolivia, Brazil, Iraq etc) must be to support the nationalization of oil and an increase in the share of oil wealth being retained for distribution to meet the peoples’ needs, as a platform for the fight for the socialization of oil under the control of the workers and peasants’ organisations and revolutionary governments. This cannot happen in one country alone. An alternative common market made up of all countries exploited and oppressed by imperialism has to be built so that there is an economic base for the construction of a world socialist movement to carry the struggle to its completion. This means in each country we need to work out a series of steps to further this international strategy.

Solving New Zealand’s oil crisis

New Zealand’s oil crisis results from a lack of its own oil and dependence on Big Oil. We need to start first by removing petrol taxes and shifting the tax burden onto business which gains most from subsidized roading. Then we need to nationalize the oil industry under workers’ control and import oil from Venezuela in exchange for agricultural commodities and technology. We can repeat this with other countries breaking free from the dictates of the global market. For example, gas under the control of Bolivian workers and peasants could be shipped to NZ in exchange for agricultural expertise to convert coca to some other economic crop. To do this we (and of course our trading partners) would have to repudiate all Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and WTO agreements that limit the actions of the sovereign national state to ‘expropriate’ foreign investments, as well as the punitive financial regimes of the IMF and World Bank.

Instead of signing an FTA with the ‘Blairite’ Lagos government in Chile which gives multinational capital freedom to trade and invest with few national constraints, NZ could target its expertise to develop agriculture in exchange for industrial goods like copper. Or in Brazil provide technical advice to develop agriculture resulting from land reform. To make this possible aggressive multinationals such as Fonterra which (with its partner Nestle) plans to dominate the Latin American dairy industry, would become a joint venture between its farmer owners and the NZ state to cooperate in the development of this industry in partnership with the peasant owners in similar cooperative/state ventures.

No capitalist party in NZ would be willing to take these steps so it is necessary to build a socialist movement in NZ that can join in the international struggle to make sure that expropriations are put under workers control and socialized as the basis of a planned global socialist economy and society. But as a first step along this road we must raise the demand now for the nationalization of the oil industry and for barter trade with Venezuela!






15th World Youth and Student Festival August 2005
Chavez on the ‘peaceful road to socialism’?

The mounting US attack on Venezuela by Condoleezza Rice, Rums field etc and Pat Robertson’s death threat against Chavez etc – raises the red bogey of Chavez conspiring with Castro to make a socialist revolution in Bolivia that can spread to the rest of Latin America. Many of the 15,000 who attended the recent World Youth and Student Festival in Caracas think it is true.

While Chávez was in Argentina, [see article below] the “16th World Festival of Youth and Students” was opened in Venezuela. It was organized by the World Social Forum. One of the guest ‘stars’ was Evo Morales of Bolivia. This was no coincidence. In this festival Evo Morales was held up as the next president of Bolivia. At the same time the ‘power ring’ [i.e. the economic, political and military containment of the Bolivian revolution] was strengthened.

Thus the WSF used its Youth and Student Festival to organize its continental politics of strangling the Bolivian revolution. At the same time, it instructed its ‘left wing’ –the liquidators of Trotskyism – to hold another ‘encounter’ in La Paz on 12-14 August, so that it could collaborate with the Lula labor bureaucracy of the CUT of Brazil, and Solares (Castroite leader of the COB –union central – in Bolivia) etc, to add its weight to the containment of the Bolivian revolution.

In the La Paz meeting, held in secret and behind the backs of the masses of the revolutionary workers vanguard of El Alto, (working class city adjoining La Paz) this collection of treacherous fake Trotskyists and bureaucrats resolved to put up a reformist workers party under the name of the “political Instrument of the Workers” to participate in the elections of December.

They buried the resolutions of the 8 June of the COR (regional COB) El Alto; aborted the reconvening of the national congress of delegates of the Originary Popular Assembly (Indigenous and Popular Assembly) and tried to isolate and confuse the vanguard that fights for workers and peasants soviets and centralised militias. In effect, this ‘encounter’ backed Morales’ truce with President Rodriguez and the bourgeois regime.

While some of their delegates went to the encounter in Bolivia, at the Festival in Venezuela were the currents of Alan Woods, the MST of Argentina and other groups of the UIT-CI, among others. There, not surprisingly, they put themselves under the authority of Chávez and Fidel Castro, the Castroite bureaucracy, and the imposter Celia Hart Santamaria of the supposed ‘Trotskyist wing’ of the Cuban Communist Party. Just as Stalinism in the ‘80s organized the ‘Coffee Brigades’ to support the policy of the Castroism and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, today the renegades of Trotskyism take the lead in organizing support for Chávez.

Celia Hart, on May 1st 2005, in its article called ‘A ghost crosses America’, called for the “unity of revolutionaries”, to found a “continental communist organization” combining “sectarian” groups and “socialist or ant capitalist organizations” into an “organization of organizations”. In other words, she called on the left including the liquidators of Trotskyism, to unite under the control of the Cuban Communist Party, as the “left wing” of the World Social Forum.

The WSF needs a class collaborationist ‘left wing’ to play the leading role in containing the masses because the original promoters of the WSF are today increasingly discredited. They are implicated directly in pro-imperialist governments and bourgeois regimes attacking the masses, like Lula in Brazil, Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay, Lagos in Chile; or open supporters of these regimes like the CTA (state workers union) and Castroism which backs Kirchner in Argentina; or getting ready to play this role in government, like Evo Morales in Bolivia. Moreover, the WSF has already lost its “poster boy”, Colonel Gutiérrez, at hands of the masses in Ecuador. [see article on Ecuador]

In the case of Chávez, they need him so they can maintain the bourgeois state behind the painting of the ‘Bolivarian revolution’. And in the case of the Castroite bureaucracy, they need the ‘left wing’ to hide their betrayals of the Latin American revolution and its policy of capitalist restoration in Cuba.

So today, in the Festival of Youth in Venezuela, the task of coordinating and centralising the ‘left’ road block stopping the revolution is being carried out by the traitors to Trotskyism. Celia Hart Santamaría could not come to the Festival, so her role was filled by her lieutenant and official guest, Alan Woods of the ‘Trotskyist’ International Marxist Tendency. Next to him appeared Ricardo Alarcón, president of the National Assembly of Cuba; Shafik Handal of the FMLN of El Salvador and Daniel Ortega of the FSLN of Nicaragua – the main leaders, after Fidel Castro, of the Central American revolution in the ‘ 80s -, as well as Evo Morales, Felipe Quispe and other ‘personalities’ of the Bolivian ‘left wing’.

The Argentinean MST-UIT newspaper Socialist Alternative N° 409, in an article signed by its Youth, recognises cynically that the Festival “does not take in any sense a class perspective”, and yet endorses its purpose. It then states that “the most important aspect of the festival is the political space that is going to unfold. With the arrival of Lula’s government [for which their current in Brazil called for a vote while in a popular front with bourgeois parties! Editor] and the acceleration of the experience of the Latin American masses with the centre-left governments, has created the most important reformist space in recent last years: the Forum of Porto Alegre. In this way it opens a space so that the revolutionary organizations can engage in a dialogue with sections of the masses no longer bound to the centre-left parties, and allows us to influence and advance their politics.”

On this basis, they support, under the suggestive subtitle “To advance without sectarianism”, participation in the Festival for “achieving much more unity among all those that fight against imperialism and who think that the capitalist model is exhausted completely. Knowing that the task of confronting this system will not happen unless led by Trotskyists, it is more important that ever to arrive at clear agreements on as many points as possible, among organizations, groups and personalities on various aspects of world politics.”

They finish by saying that they will take this proposal from the Festival in Venezuela to the international level: “to create an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist international coordination, that can arrive at points of agreement and to make united political campaigns in support of the workers and popular sectors in struggle”. Likewise, Alan Woods dedicated himself to the concrete task of creating that “continental organization” with Celia Hart.

Thus, the delegations, the Venezuelan CMR, the Communist Party of Venezuela, Felipe Quispe of Bolivia, the M-28 and Fogata of Venezuela, the Front of University Students and the front of Colombian Secondary Students, the MRTA of Peru, the “Continental Current Bolivariana” CCB) etc., all agree with the politics of Celia Hart Santamaría. And not by chance: as Allan Woods of the IMT, the UIT-CI and its section MST of Argentina are all part of this third batch of Menshevism and as the betrayers of Trotskyism form the ‘left wing’ of the World Social Forum, a true counter-revolutionary international. 

Abridged from Workers Democracy 19 August 2005

Chavez visited Argentina to sign off on a deal to build two new oil tankers. Here’s a commentary on Chavez attitude towards the Santiago River shipbuilders.

On 11 of August, the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, visited Argentina to sign the agreement for the construction of two oil tankers at the River Santiago Shipyard (ARS), giving a boost to the government campaign of Kirchner and Solá (State Governor) for the creation of a thousand new jobs. In a speech to the workers Chávez called on them to support the government of Kirchner which he praised saying “They have changed things in this country since this man arrived at the Pink House (Presidential Palace)”.

Like a demagogue he also praised the ARS as a “shipyard with dignity” because “imperialism did not own it” because the workers had “resisted the neo-liberal aggression”. But that sweet talk did not last long, because immediately afterwards he told the workers that they must “finish the ships quickly” so they could get more work.

It seems that Chávez did not come to the ARS because he is a good employer sharing the interests of the Argentine workers. He came because he could get cheap manual labor where the wages are constantly reduced by inflation. For Chávez it is excellent business building the ships in the ARS because the wages are on average $1100 (US$380) instead of $2000 to $3000 dollars a month in Spanish shipyards.

And like all bosses, Chavez wants to shorten the time of production to the maximum, because he knows that the faster the ships are built, the faster he will be able to export Venezuela’s oil. The chavista bourgeoisie wants sell more oil to Bush and US imperialism at $70 dollars a barrel, even though this allows the US to keep its military machine operating in Iraq and the Middle East.

And to guarantee that the workers will work harder and not go on strike, the Provincial governor Sola has passed a law to limit the right of strike. This is nothing new. It copies the law proposed by Chavez that workers in state companies, such as the PdVSA, [state oil] who go on strike can be sent to jail for years.

No strike laws are to prevent any problem or delay in the expansion of the oil industry. For those workers who protest: jail! Chávez wants to enslave manual labor in the ARS, and he imposes tough conditions of work so that workers do not have the right to complain, let alone ask for better conditions!

Chávez and Solá get their way in the ARS through the efforts of the collaboration of the union bureaucracy of Ate-cta. The same bureaucrats who have isolated the striking health workers at Garrahan [see article below] organised the meeting with Chavez at ARS so that nobody dared to ‘boo’ Chavez during his speech.

In order to police the meeting the bureaucrats brought some “pro-government piqueteros” of the FTV-CTA and Barrios de Pie who threatened physical violence against ARS workers. They make sure that the workers accept the bosses’ terms so they can be better exploited.

Shamefully, the internal commission of the ARS (combined unions) to which the PTS, PCR and the MST [centrist Trotskyist groups) belong, kept quite during the visit of Chavez and Sola, and the actions of the ATE-CTA bureaucracy. Although it is not a member of the internal commission of the ARS, the PO limited its criticisms to demanding that the 1000 jobs to be created be under the control of the organizations of unemployed people.

None of these currents, who call themselves revolutionaries called on the ARS workers to challenge Chávez’ deception, or alerted them to the plans of Sola and Kirchner to make them work like Chinese laborers. Or point out that if they strike for better wages they will be jailed or beaten up by the thugs of the FTV and Barrios de Pie – as they have done in Tucumán and Rosario – with the excuse that the ships being built for Chavez and his “Bolivarian revolution” cannot be delayed.

We know that the workers of the ARS want to work. We understand their joy and enthusiasm to know that the construction of the Venezuelan ships will guarantee work for them for some years. But we warn them that Chavez is a bourgeois employer who with Solá prepares the workers for super exploitation. In order to oppose this it is necessary to unite with the thousands of unemployed workers of the Berisso and Cove region (30% unemployed) and tell the employer’s association of Chávez, Kirchner and Sola:

“If you want these ships faster, there is no problem. It is necessary to employ more workers to produce, to distribute the working hours between all the workers available, reducing the working day and with a basic wage of $1,800 a month!”

The solution is to unite with the workers of the Garrahan (Hospital workers on strike) who are in a struggle for a basic wage of $1,800 for all state employees. It is necessary to call on the TIES and the CTA to launch a national strike until our demands are met.

But in all this there is still a big problem. The oil tankers that are being built for Venezuela, may be used to transport the oil used to fuel the US military machine that massacres the Iraqi workers who are our class brothers and sisters. We cannot allow it!

The workers of the ARS have the duty to call on the Venezuelan workers to fight to prevent any oil being shipped for use in imperialist wars. And simultaneously to call them to fight together to stop the oil monopolies like Repsol or Texaco (which Chávez granted the oil rights to the Orinoco river basin) from plundering the hydrocarbons of our Bolivian class brothers and sisters!

Workers Democracy Argentina No 9 July 2005.

Asserting their independence of Chavez, here is a report of a message of solidarity of Venezuelan oil workers to Ecuadorian oil workers!
“We Are With You: Jósé Bodas, leader of Fedepetrol, the oil workers’ union of Venezuela, expresses solidarity with Ecuadorian strikers:

By Nelson Gámez, Thursday, 25/08/05 06:29pm

The national leader of Fedepetrol, José Bodas, from Puerto La Cruz, sent a declaration to the communications media of that city, in which [the Venezuelan oil workers] express solidarity with the Ecuadorian oil workers who have been carrying out a just struggle for two weeks in defense of their rights and of the communities of the Amazonian jungle area.

The communiqué says:

“Just as the Ecuadorian oil workers supported us three years ago in order to defeat the bosses’ sabotage of PDVSA, we are reciprocating that gesture of solidarity, by telling the workers and communities of the Ecuadorian Amazonian jungle that we support them unconditionally, that we reject the savage repression by the government of Alfredo Palacios, and we lament the fact that President Chavez has decided to send petroleum to that country, since with that action, in fact, the just strike movement of the workers and the inhabitants is being broken.

“We are pained to learn that the high-level commission of the Ecuadorian government, which will sign the accords with the Venezuelan government, is composed of people committed to the interests of the multinational [corporations], and that from their positions and functions for three years now they have not moved a finger to help us from Ecuador to overcome the offensive of the imperialists and coup-plotters against Venezuelan sovereignty, attacked by Fedecamaras, by the parties of the oligarchy, and by imperialism.

“We certainly do not expect that the representatives of the multinationals will take any action expressing solidarity with the peoples and workers of the world.

Their actions will always be determined by profits, so we are not surprised by the declarations by the US government, nor those of the European governments, which have saluted the deal by President Chavez to avoid the Ecuadorian oil crisis.

With that same fervor with which they defend their interests, they maintain their criminal silence in the face of deranged declarations of “reverend” terrorists, who call for the assassination of President Chavez through the US communications media.

“We wish to inform the public, that for our part, as workers, revolutionaries and socialists, we will never support the enemies of the workers, and we will never take any action that contributes to the defeat of the struggle of the workers anywhere on the planet.

Our place is in solidarity with our class brothers in Ecuador, who are fighting for better conditions in their lives and for resources to meet the urgent needs of communities that live in conditions of extreme poverty in the Amazonian jungle.”

The communiqué ends:

“[we appeal] to all the Venezuelan workers, to the UNT, to the organizations of peasants, indigenous peoples, students, and the popular masses, to make known our solidarity with the Ecuadorian oil workers. Their struggle is our struggle, just as the struggle of the Bolivian workers and people in defense of their hydrocarbons is our struggle.”

From Class Struggle 63 Sept/Oct 2005

Written by raved

January 6, 2012 at 11:33 am


leave a comment »

From Class Struggle 48 December 2002/January 2003

Argentina goes from IMF ‘show case’ of economic development to’ basket case’. Is the same fate in store for New Zealand/Aotearoa? Here we put forward some ideas in the hope of stimilating a debate on this question. We make some further comparisons with Australia and South Africa which have similar origins. The solution we come up with is for Socialist Federations of the Pacific, Latin America and Southern Africa! We welcome feedback from readers aboiut where they think New Zealand/Aotearoa is going.

Some History

Some basic facts: Argentina 40 million people. NZ 4 million people and 40 million sheep. Both settler semi-colonies; dependent development based on pastoral exports in 19th and early 20th centuries and post WW2 economic insulation. NZ’s competitive advantage is agricultural – dairy production, meat processing, woool –textiles etc. The semi-colonial problem is dependence on exports to maintain imports of primary and secondary manufactures. NZ’s development was limited to import-substitution secondary manufacturing (eg car assembly, whiteware, electronics etc to serve local market)

Argentina has competitive advantage in pastoral production. Its balance of payments problem was lessened by protection. Argentina was able to substitute some heavy manufacturing, such as steel, petrochemicals etc. But it never became a big regional exporter of these commodities. Argentina’s heavy industry was highly protected and uncompetitive. Thus Argentina’s dependent-development was somewhere between that of NZ (which did not substitute heavy industry) and South Africa and Australia (who produced cars, electronics etc for regional markets). We suggest that the limits to dependent-development in each case are set by the extent to which a country has competitive advantage in the manufacturing of heavy machinery (i.e. capital goods).

Semi-colonial development and crisis

Dependent-development reaches its fullest extent with the export of a limited range capital goods on the world economy. Yet competitive advantage exists only during the periods of boom and fails during recessions as regional markets contract and the small-scale economies and higher costs in the semi-colonies cannot sustain competition.

Enter the MNCs to concentrate and rationalise production globally. This has been the story of so-called globalisation. In SA and Australia, the biggest operations were internationalised. In SA most of the major industries are Multinationals. In Australia minerals (BHP) General Motors Holden/Ford etc have been globalised.


In the case of Argentina where capital goods production could be integrated profitably it survived. But most was not competitive so Argentina was de-industrialised and its import substitution capacity in heavy steel and petro-chemical industry lost. Thus import volumes rose. Import prices were reduced as the peso was pegged to the dollar, but export prices rose with the US dollar, so that overall the trade deficit increased. The balance of payments was plugged with IMF borrowing until this exceeded the capacity of exports to pay and debt mounted.

So the crisis of a re-colonised dependent economy means bankruptcy and devaluation of assets which are then sold off cheaply to multinationals and big banks. Argentina’s plight is that of all semi-colonial economies whose capacity to develop independently has been destroyed by globalisation. But the severity of the crisis is directly proportional to the depth of restructuring in the primary industry sector. How does NZ compare?

New Zealand compared

NZ’s primary sector always involved foreign investment through banks and loan agencies and the export of profits. In agriculture (dairy, meat, textiles etc) production depended heavily on imported capital, technology and machines. New Zealand never substituted for heavy industry except in isolated, exceptional cases (NZ Steel based on Iron sands).

Thus NZ was always exposed to chronic balance of payments crises. The postwar development of import substitution in secondary manufacturing for consumer goods was a weak attempt to solve the ongoing dependency of the economy. This insulation reached its limit as soon as protected industry outgrew the local market.

So, unlike SA, Australia or Argentina, the neo-liberal reversal was less deep because it affected only the post-war import substitution in the secondary sector of the economy. De-industrialisation did not hit primary production as it was already partiallly globalised. Pastoral production has always been technologically advanced, and continues to be so. The primary agricultural sector (e.g. meat, dairy, wool etc) has become more internationalised with the giant dairy monopoly Fonterra, now a multinational in its own right. The problem with this however is that little of the rent from agricultural value-added production is available for redistribution inside NZ but falls into the hands of international capital.

To complete the comparison, Argentina was able to insulate itself from extreme economic dependence by setting up internal capital goods manufacturing. In some ways similar to the situation in SA where apartheid was like the military dictatorship in regimenting social production based on super-exploitation. Like SA, when the crisis came in the early 90’s, Argentina fell further and was more severly affected by the neo-liberal crisis measures than Australia or NZ.


Argentina’s dependency, more like Australia and SA, is acute. Yet all these are relatively large economies with a broad resource base where there is the potential to resolve the crisis by socialising the economy. In Agentina the collapse of industry leaves the majority of the population out of work or underemployed. Half are under the poverty line. 20% are hungry or starving.

The most similar case is SA, and it is no accident that in Argentina the masses are frightened of becoming “Another Africa”. Like SA, nationalisation without compensation under workers’ control of the large businesses and banks is the way to revive the economy and feed the people. This has to become linked to revolutions in the rest of the region, to establish a Federation of Socialist Republics of Southern Africa, and of Latin America, to create potentially powerful regional socialist economies.

NZ’s dependency is chronic

NZ is in reality a tiny US and Australian dominated semi-colony. Its capitalist future will see it integrating with Australia as part of a larger US client state. Even that won’t buy much time for the bosses. Australia is in a similar position to Argentina. Marxism is not an exact science and predictions have to be reviewed constantly. But we would suggest Australia’s prospects over the next tens years are that it is likely to suffer a similar economic decline to Argentina.

If this is correct, NZ’s relation to Australia will see it sucked into this vortex. Therefore, workers in NZ must prepare to unite with Australian workers for the nationalisation under workers control of the assets of all the big banks and businesses and to socialise the economy as part of a Federation of Socialist Republics of the Pacific.

Written by raved

January 3, 2009 at 9:30 pm


leave a comment »

From Class Struggle 48 December 2002/January 2003

One year after the momentous Argentinazo of December 19 and 20, workers and poor people flooded once more to the Plaza de Mayo in the centre of Buenos Aires. Unlike last year where the state forces killed 33 mainly young people and the level of protest forced the resignation of the De la Rua government, this year there was no confrontation and Duhalde’s government did not fall. A temporary stalemate exists. The bosses are relying on the union bureaucrats and so-called socialist parties to divide and rule the workers struggles. However, the forces on the militant left wing of the movement are regrouping around the occupied factories to defend the most important conquest of the revolution and to unite workers on a revolutionary action program. A member of CWG just back from Argentina reports on the prospects of the continuing revolution.

Argentina December 20 2002

The mass rally on December 20 this year (100,000 in Buenos Aires and 100,000 in the rest of Argentina) shows that a temporary stalemate exists between the two main classes in Argentina. On the one side Duhalde’s government was not challenged. It was able to pay the IMF $20 billion, make another 500,000 workers unemployed, and still rely on the union bureaucracy to buy off the majority of unemployed with US $40 a month. On the other side, an increasing number of the ranks of unemployed, employed and students are becoming angry at the treachery of the bureaucracy and the ‘left’ parties, and are openly looking for ways to break from their control and find an independent working class solution to the bosses’ crisis.

While the bosses were able to prevent the workers from using December 20 to make another Argentinazo, what was significant about this years rally, was the emergence of a class struggle left wing of the mass movement that marched separately and that broke openly with the control of the official union bureaucracy of the CTA/CCC and the unofficial ‘left bureaucracy’ that has emerged in the last year to administer the unemployment schemes.[1] Instead of of falling into the trap of trying to bring down Duhalde with street fighting, these as yet small forces rallied behind demands for strike action, for defence of the factory occupations, and for general strike leading to national workers congress in the new year.

On balance it seems that the stalemate continues but that the current situation opens the way for a deepening and widening of the revolution, to overcome the splits in the mass movement, and to break from the bureaucracy by mounting mass defence pickets of the factory occupations by all the sectors in struggle.

Brukman and Zanon leading the fight

The most visible sign of this healthy development was that of the Brukman and Zanon occupied factories leading their own column, closely associated with two other colums, that of the FTC and that of the combined forces of the RSL, SC and DO.[2] All of these columns marched behind the banners of strike and take the fight to the streets on D 19/20 (instead of a stagemanaged ‘commemoration’ organised by the bureaucracy); to fight the union bureaucracy; for a general strike to bring down Duhalde and “get them all out”; for all factories to be nationalised without compensation and under workers control; and for a 3rd national workers congress of mandated delegates for every 100 employed, unemployed workers and popular assembly members.

It was important that Brukman led the way. Brukman is the factory that represents the most politically advanced workers who are calling openly for the nationalisation of their factory without compensation and under workers control.[3] For this reason the bosses are determined to re-take this factory to destroy it as an example of how socialism can work.[4]

Zanon is another leading example. Zanon is a large ceramics factory in Neuquen in the far west of Argentina whose workers are running it at 80% capacity and providing jobs for unemployed. Zanon was recently visited by Hebe de Bonafini a leader of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of the Dissappeared) who immediately saw that workers were in control and were capable of producing without bosses. She reported that Zanon was proof that workers could run society not only in Argentina but the whole world.[5]

ISACO joins the occupations

In an important symbolic act, on December 20 itself, another factory occupation took place. This was ISACO a factory that made car parts, at one time employing over 200 workers, and which shut down in December 2000. It was finally declared bankrupt on 24 November this year. When the sacked workers heard this they decided to camp outside to prevent the factory being stripped of machines. They reoccupied the factory at 7 am on the 20th with plans to restart production under workers’ control. They took this decision conscious of the many other occupations that have already taken place.[6]

Defence committees

Almost all attempts by the bossses to get the police, the justice and the union scabs to retake these factories have so far failed. The recent retaking of the Halac medical clinic at Cordoba on the 17 December succeeded only because the numbers defending the clinc were too small to stop the police. The lesson being drawn is that all of the sectors in struggle have to unite to form mass defence committees against the bosses’ attempts to retake the occupied workplaces. Hence the common columns marching on the 20th put up the demand for unity to defend the occupations, clearly against the bureaucrats’ measures to divide the movement.

Build for a general strike

The second lesson is that as well as these defence committees, the rest of the sectors in struggle (unemployed, employed, and members of PAs) have to unite behind a general strike to bring Duhalde down. They take seriously the demand raised spontaneously last December 20: “out with them all, not one must remain”. But instead of organising another Argentinazo to bring Duhalde down, the union bureaucrats are conducting negotiations with Duhalde and the IMF to do a deal to rescue the Argentinean economy and avoid a popular revolution. They are jockeying to contest the April elections, or they are taking a fake left line and calling for elections for Constituent Assemblies as if these would solve Argentina’s crisis.[7] That is why the class stuggle tendency in the movement united behind Brukman and Zanon puts the demand on the bureacuracy for a general strike to bring down the government now, and a National Congress of employed, unemployed and Popular Assemblies.

‘Workers to Power’

The third lesson is that is all very well to bring down a government, but who will rule in its place? Again the experience of the unemployed movement that has called for “workers to power” for more than a year, combining with the lessons of the factory occupations, that the bosses’ property must be nationalised without compensation under workers control, all points to one solution – a workers’ revolution. That is why these class struggle currrents have united around the demand for ‘workers to power’ and for a 3rd national congress of workers early in 2003 that can become the basis of a workers’ government.

All the “left traitors” line up to serve the boss

Today the revolutionary situation in Argentina that was opened over a year ago by workers looking for their own solution to the crisis has been met by opposition from all the political currents across the spectrum of Argentina’s class structure top to bottom. Most workers have lost faith in any of the Bourgeois parties including the left Peronists like Duhalde (or De la Rua who is waiting in the wings with the retired General Rico as a running mate).

Nor are they enthusiastic to vote for left reformists like De Ellia and Zamora who promise ‘popular governments’ modelled on the popular front of the World Social Forum or on Lula’s government in Brazil. Hopes are being placed in Lula’s ability to help solve the Argentine crisis. As the pesos devaluation has restored the competitiveness of Argentina’s exports, the reformist left is looking to a revival of trade with Brazil to rescue the economy. But there is no way out of the crisis for workers via the bourgeois state. The most that can happen is that Argentina’s crisis will become joined with Brazil’s own ongoing crisis. This demonstrates clearly that the WSF is a reformist or ‘menshevik’ international that has to be confronted internationally by revolutionaries.[8]

Fake Trotskyists

The most treacherous of all are the self-proclaimed ‘workers’ parties and the left bureaucracy that put forward the solution of the Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly is a bourgeois parliament that represents all classes. As we argued in Class Struggle No 43, the call for a Constituent Assembly when revolution is building is to reject the theory of Permanent Revolution. This theory makes it clear that in colonies and semi-colonies fighting imperialism, there can be no break with imperialism unless the working class leads a socialist revolution. The national bourgeoisie are completely dependent upon imperialism and workers alone have the class interest and class power to lead a revolution to expropriate the imperialists.

While the appeal of the elections to a popular front and the various Constituent Assemblies are being pushed non-stop, as yet none of these attempts to divert the revolution has won the support of the class struggle wing of the movement where the instinct is for ‘workers to power’. The situation is ripe for a revolutionary leadership to thrust itself to the fore and to take the lead in building organs of workers power against the union bureaucracy and against the bourgeois state.

Where to from here?

The current situation in Argentina is poised to break the stalemate and to develop in one of two directions. The bosses may succeed in dampening down the revolutionary situation with a new round of elections as a trap for the majority of workers, and the systemmatic repression of the factory occupations and militant wing of the mass movement. This would allow them to impose a solution to the crisis on the backs of the masses and avoid the threat of revolutionary upheaval.

But for this to succeed the workers revolution has to be strangled. The revolutionary situation that has opened up in the last year has demonstrated the necessity for the unity and coordination of all the sectors in struggle around the factory occupations to break with the union bureaucrats and launch a general strike to bring down the government and put a workers government in its place. The class struggle wing is now drawing these lessons and embarking on that road and building united fronts across the country. But that will not be sufficient. There needs to be a revolutionary party and program to lead the way forward.

The Revolutionary Party

The single crucial factor that will make the difference in which direction Argentina goes is the existence a revolutionary party. The instinctive struggle for ‘workers to power’ cannot happen spontaneously. It has to be built, defended and extended by creating organs of dual power. The occupations are the starting point because only they seriously challenge capitalist property rights. The intervention of the revolutionary left in the occupations is the test of their leadership. Here we see the vanguard of the workers testing out the revolutionary ideas of the more healthy parties. Some like the PO or PTS, who try to contain the struggle for sectarian or oppportunist reasons, are being exposed.[9] Those parties like the DO, the CS and RSL, and other militant workers that fight for the vanguard to adopt a revolutionary action program and for organs of workers power, will become the core of the Argentinean revolutionary party, and part of a new world party of revolution.

[1] Some instances of class struggle forces at least partially breaking with the bureacracy were; in Neuquen, Workers Democracy broke with the left bureaucracy demand to bring down the state governor and for a provincial Constituent Assembly, and called for a break with the ‘multisectoral’ popular front and for a Congress of workers that could lead to a Workers’ Government. At the Plaza de Mayo, the MTD Anibal Veron (named after the first piquetero martyr in Salta) marched to the Plaza but left rather than particpate in the union bureaucrats ‘commemoration’ of 2001; the joint column of the CS, RSL and DO, after marching to the square along with the FTC and Brukman/Zanon contingents, left to go to the Obelisk at Republic square to honour the fallen comrades.

[2] The Frente Trabajadores Combativos (FTC) is a class struggle formation of unemployed, employed and left groups and individuals who have broken from the bureaucracy. Socialist Convergence (SC) is a fraction of the Morenoist LIT (Workers’ International League) in Argentina with members in Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and the Carribean. The Revolutionary Socialist League (RSL) is another ex-Morenoite group taking a non-sectarian approach to party building in Argentina. Democracia Obrera (DO) is a 1998 split from the PTS (Socialist Workers Party) committed to building reforging the 4th International and playing a leading role in building class struggle united fronts in Argentina.

[3] On December 21 the night after D20, Brukman hosted an adaptation of the Brecht play “The Mothers”, a homage to the women in the 1905 revolution in Russia. It also showed a documentary film on the life of Argentininan revolutionary film -maker Raymondo Gleyzer who ‘dissappeared’ during the dictatorship in 1976. The working class audience fully participated in this cultural act joining in the production and celebrating the links between these outstanding examples of revolutionary art and the living revolution in Argentina.

[4] On November 24 the police raided Brukman and arrested the workers at gunpoint. They were charged with breaking machines in the factory. They were released on a technicality and returned to find the factory in the ands of the boss and scab workers and guarded by police. With the support of hundreds of other workers who rallied in their defence they broke through the police lines and re-occupied the factory. Late in December they were issued with another court order demanding they vacate the factory. They are rallying support for another attempt by the state and the boss to remove them in January.

[6] At a recent meeting the ‘interbarrial’ of San Martin (North Buenos Aires) as well as student and teachers’ unions decided to join in a festival on the 11th in the factory to build support for a return to production but under workers and not the bosses’ control.

[7] Contesting the April Presidential elections is conceding now that Duhalde cannot be brought down by other means. Demanding a Constitutent Assembly, a new bourgeois parliament elected by all adult citizens, now, as the PO (Workers’ Party) does, concedes that dual power organs like workers councils or soviets cannot be built now. However, if Duhalde is not brought down and dual power organs are not created before April 2003, then both contesting the elections and calling for a Constitutent Assembly may be tactical options that can be used to advance the workers’ struggle.

[8] ‘Menshevik’ refers to the majority of the Russian Communist Party after 1902 that held that history occurs in a series of stages. The WSF and the Brazilian PT follow this ideology and this traps them into forming governments with ‘progressive’ capitalists to defend bourgeois democracy on the Lula model rather than fight outright for a socialist revolution.

[9] The PTS argued against the DO’s proposed demands for December 20 at two recent meetings in Brukman and were defeated. This did not stop the PTS bringing 20 workes from Zanon to try to reverse this vote. They failed and had to march behind banners that called for a break with the bureaucracy. The PO recently lost 300 of its supporters in La Matanza (a working class suburb of Greater Buenos Aires) because it is administering the work plans and taking money from the state.

Written by raved

January 3, 2009 at 8:59 pm


leave a comment »

Applying the lessons of history:

Argentina’s current crisis hit the headlines over the new year period as the US war against Afghanistan wound down. What had appeared to be a massive victory for the US in its first round of the war against terrorism, became upstaged by the Argentinean masses as they brought down three governments, and four presidents within two weeks. What is going on there? Is this some isolated crisis brought on by local conditions? The national character of a volatile Southern European migrant population? The failure of economic policy? The bourgeois press looks around desperately for explanations that blame Argentina or the mismanagement of international finance by the IMF. What they try to ignore is that what is happening in Argentina is merely one example of a mass rebellion building up against global capitalism. This means that what is happening in Argentina sets the pace for what can happen anywhere as the anti-capitalist mood spreads and mounts against world capitalism.

But just as the victory of the US in Afghanistan consolidated its hegemony as the dominant imperialist power, the revolt in Argentina opened up a weak flank against US imperialism in the heartland of the Empire, Latin America.

The Argentinean revolution has begun and it can either become a victorious workers’ revolution as an example for all of us to follow, or it can fail under the combined pressure of local reaction and imperialist intervention. This is why the situation in Argentina is so crucial. Here workers can make history provided they adopt the correct strategy and tactics. But they can also be defeated if they become victim to counter-revolutionary forces.

Revolution and Counter-revolution

To understand the causes of the current crisis is it necessary to know why the workers are rebelling and what it will take to turn a rebellion into a socialist revolution. To do this is it necessary to apply Marxist theory and practice to the situation and to put to the test the competing versions of Marxism, and the various tendencies within the reformist, centrist and revolutionary left. Then, the correct answers to these questions can be formulated in time to create a new vanguard party capable of leading a victorious Argentine revolution. Readers should look to Trotsky’s writings on the Civil War in Spain for invaluable lessons that apply today to Argentina.[see article on Argentina and Anarchism’.]

Argentinean workers are rebelling because imperialism sucks out more and more of their surplus value to fill the coffers of the multinational companies. Marx called this the absolute law of accumulation. As capitalism develops it concentrates wealth at the centre and impoverishes the periphery. Argentina, like most of the former colonial and semi-colonial world has experienced relative impoverishment as its wealth is transferred to the imperialist center. This leaves Argentinean workers relatively poorer and in debt as the country borrows to live and taxes workers to pay back the IMF, the World Bank and other banks.

It is important to recognise that debt is just a symptom of workers borrowing to live. Personal debt becomes combined as the national debt. The need to borrow results from inadequate income in the first place. But it is the bosses who borrow expecting works to pay the debt. This is the effect of the super-exploitation of workers in colonies and semi-colonies where more and more of the value they produce being siphoned off as surplus-value. And when high profits cannot be made any more, production stops, jobs are lost and a growing reserve army of unemployed gets bigger and bigger. As Marx said the fantastic accumulation of wealth at one pole is opposed to the massive misery of the poor at the other pole. This polarisation has grown fantastically worse in the last twenty years.

Globalisation only makes it worse

What today is called ‘globalisation’ or ‘neo-liberalism’ is the deliberate policy of imperialism to intensify its super-exploitation of colonies and neo-colonies over the last twenty years. This policy was necessary to try to offset the falling profits that followed the end of the post-war boom. Countries like Argentina and New Zealand benefited from the post-war boom because their economies were protected by tariffs and their main exports were in demand at high prices. Workers real living standards rose during this period also.

But the end of the boom and the onset of a general crisis of capitalism in the early 1970’s saw these export markets and prices slump. To offset the balance of payments deficits, more and more money was borrowed increasing the national debt. This forced a change of policy, and Argentina like NZ deregulated its economy and opened up to direct foreign investment. The process of super-exploitation became intensified and spedup under the IMF and World Bank which oversaw the economic reforms (‘structural adjustment’) and the attacks on workers living standards. The result was dramatically falling living standards, rising debt and loss of jobs.

So the immediate causes of the rebellion of the picqueteros (unemployed) and low paid and unpaid workers, as well as the petty bourgeois whose savings have been confiscated to pay off the debt, is relative impoverishment and immiseration.

This is not some freak event or accident. It is a fundamental fact of capitalist development, and intensified by neo-liberal globalisation over the last two decades. This is why those in rebellion have raised the demands for jobs, wages, savings, etc. Flowing from these demands are those that offer solutions: nonpayment of the external debt, nationalisation of the banks, the re-nationalisation of the privatised companies; the end to corrupt and repressive governments, and opposition to devaluation because it will further reduce living standards.

The bosses’ state

No bourgeois government can meet these demands. Bourgeois governments are committed to defending the rights of capitalist property including the owners of industry and the banks. While they may also be filled by corrupt and incompetent politicians, replacing them with honest and competent ones will not change anything.

This is because the state must serve the capitalist economy by guaranteeing by force the rights of private property and the operation of the market. Any breach of these rights and market mechanisms are in themselves therefore anti-capitalist. So honest and competent politicians are better servants of capitalism than dishonest and incompetent ones.

Because workers do not spontaneously recognise that exploitation takes place at the point of production, they see their exploitation as the result of inequalities that are unjust even in capitalist terms. They therefore look to honest and competent governments that will meet their needs. They will vote for parties that promise they can act in the workers interests. But since nationalisation, nonpayment of debt etc represent an infringement on capitalists property rights, no bosses government can make more than token moves in this direction. When workers find that instead of reforms they get repressed and cheated they ask what other solution is there? While socialism is one solution, fascism is another.

This is the situation that faces workers in Argentina in February 2002. They have brought down 3 governments and 4 presidents who have proven incapable of meeting their demands. Now Duhalde has been ‘elected’ by the combined parties in the legislature as a President of a government of ‘national salvation’. Duhalde is a member of the Peronist party, a former vice President under Menem in the 1980’s and the unsuccessful opponent of de la Rua who was elected President in 1999. His ‘election’ is an attempt to revive Peronism’s left credentials with the labour aristocracy and petty bourgeoisie and to head off revolution and to pave the way for fascism.

Semi-Bonaparte Duhalde?

The Argentine ruling class parties have appointed Duhalde with support from the reformist left, in consultation with the US ruling class. His job is to buy time and support from the ‘middle class’ to isolate and contain opposition to the state in preparation for a full scale attack on rebelling workers. To understand this tactic on the part of the bosses it is necessary to understand several important concepts such as the ‘popular front’, Bonapartism and fascism.

Because the contradictions and crises of capitalism always polarise the two main classes and mobilise workers as a potential revolutionary force, the bosses try to hide class conflict under the blanket of nationalism. The class that takes a leading role in trying to manage class antagonism within a nationalist framework is the petty bourgeois. Their class interests are to own their own independent property and to become personally wealthy. As capitalism constantly squeezes them downwards into the working class they are antagonistic to workers and see them as the causes of their own economic insecurity or bankruptcy.

The Popular Front

The bosses usually attempt to rig the electoral law to keep majority workers parties out of power. Failing that where workers have won proportional representation they are pushed into coalitions in which petty bourgeois or even bourgeois parties set limits to their programs so that do not challenge capitalist property rights. Any combination of worker parties with petty bourgeois or bourgeois parties is called a popular front. Usually it is also a patriotic front where the class interests of the parties are buried under the concept of the ‘national interest’. The role of the popular, patriotic front is to prevent workers parties from becoming independent class parties challenging capitalist property rights.

During economic crises when the petty bourgeois is being squeezed downwards they can become allies of workers struggles since they too are defending their living standards, savings etc. Whether they join in with workers, or turn against workers, depends on which class can promise them the most. One the one hand, workers can promise petty bourgeois salvation by building a revolutionary movement that will replace the anarchic capitalist economy with a planned socialist economy. Even if they won’t be petty bourgeois any more at least they will be alive and kicking.

On the other hand, bosses will promise salvation with an economic package which claims to protect the welfare and rights of the petty bourgeois from monopoly capital and monopoly labour. The bosses bribe them to kick the workers. In reality the workers pay for these bribes not the bosses. Thus the petty bourgeois become bureaucratic or paramilitary forces that act in the interests of the property holders. They act for monopoly capital by taking strong measures against ‘anarchists’ and ‘communists’.

Where the attempts to form popular front governments fail it is necessary to create governments that personify the patriotic front in the office of a strong leader usually a President or General. Argentina has a history of such governments and leaders, Peron being the best known. To create a government of ‘national salvation’ that can manage the crisis in the interests of the bosses by retaining the loyalty of the petty bourgeois requires a strong state.

To be convincing and win mass support this state has to appear to be genuinely class neutral and put limits on both big capital and big labour. This form of state is called a Bonapartist state after the French Napoleon Bonaparte III who ruled France in this manner in the 1830’s. Full blown Bonapartism usually results when a minority takes power with the passive support of the majority a so-called coup d etat. Semi-Bonapartism is constitutionally created: Duhalde is a semi-Bonaparte because he was elected to the job by the legislature.

Such a government is necessary because the two main classes are at roughly equal strengths. The Bonapartist policy is to win over the petty bourgeois and tip the scales in favour of the bosses. Duhalde’s government has a policy that is designed to do just this; to split the rebellious petty bourgeois from the militant workers and unemployed. And in the process to isolate the workers and prepare for an open counter-revolution or civil war to defeat the revolutionary threat of a socialist revolution.

Defeating Bonapartism

Bonapartism is attractive to the petty bourgeoisie because it offers strong and decisive leadership. Yet under conditions of extreme crisis, default, massive devaluation etc Duhalde’s government cannot keep these promises and defend the economic interests of the petty bourgeoisie.

This is why Duhalde is advocating constitutional reform. He knows that the popular rejection of all bourgeois governments is such that only radical reforms will restore any legitimacy to the state. His proposals to reform the Constitution are designed to appeal to the Peronist workers in the unions and the petty bourgeois and split them away from the poor workers and unemployed. By doing this he hopes to isolate and marginalise the main sources of the rebellion and so mobilise support to restore social order by police or military repression.

If these measures fail to win support from the ‘middle class’ (i.e. labour aristocracy, petty bourgeoisie) the question becomes, can Duhalde retain their loyalty by attacking organised labour? Here the question of workers strategy and tactics in response to Bonapartism is of crucial importance.

To win the class war against the bosses, workers must take strong action. Only a revolutionary proletariat can stop Bonapartism and fascism. Therefore this action must not be moderated out of fear of losing the support of the petty bourgeois. The line of least resistance is the most disastrous. The petty bourgeois can only be won over by proving that the workers solution to the crisis is better than the bosses. The way to defeat Bonapartism is not to play dead in the hope that it will go away. This is the same as saying that the class struggle will go away, and that capitalism can live in a state of suspended animation. To refuse to defend workers under attack by Bonapartism, proves to the petty bourgeois that bosses are going to win and they want to be on the winning side.

The Constituent Assembly

One tactic that unfortunately leads to passivity and defeat in the current situation is that of diverting the working class response to Bonapartism into a campaign for a Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly is a special parliament that is called so that all the people can work out the most democratic form of bourgeois government. It is an important demand to mobilise workers to fight for democracy when workers have yet to experience bourgeois democracy. But this is a backward move at a time when the workers are building an offensive that already shows they have few illusions in bourgeois democracy.

The advent of Bonapartism represents a defensive move for capital against a working class offensive that has shown the ruling class to be divided and desperate. That offensive follows decades of the development of a capitalist semi-colony in which the working class is now the huge majority, where capitalist agriculture has largely eliminated the peasantry, and where the petty bourgeoisie has become increasingly disguised wage labour.

Moverover, the ‘defensive’ struggles of the last decades against military dictatorships and the austerity Peronist governments that followed, show that the current offensive is firmly based upon the working class methods that are based on occupations, blockades, strikes and demonstrations.

Why then, with the bosses forced to resort to a Bonapartist regime should workers turn back from creating workers’ councils (soviets) and generalising strike action? What is the point of the Constituent Assembly?

Like any democratic right, the Constituent Assembly is based on the ideal of bourgeois individual rights. But it is important to defend those rights only insofar as they advance the cause of revolution. The CA is useful in situations where workers or peasants still have illusions in bourgeois democracy as capable of meeting their interests.

In Russia, China and Spain in the early part of the 20th century, the Bolshevik-Leninists used the tactic as a way of bringing peasants and workers who had little or no experience of bourgeois democracy into the struggle for socialism. By calling for the CA. based on the secret ballot for all over the age of 18, a single legislative chamber and combined legislative and executive powers, workers would find that despite such radical ‘democracy’, their needs for land, bread and peace could not be met.

Today in Argentina where an advanced working class has long experience of democracy and dictatorship and is mobilising in their own proto-soviets and fighting outside parliament it is already clear to the militant minority that no bourgeois ‘democracy’ is going to meet their needs. The best way to win over the remaining workers to a revolutionary perspective is to prove that independent working class struggle works.

Those who are calling for the CA in Argentina are saying that a CA can take power and win workers what they want. They say that the socialist revolution can be won without overthrowing the bourgeois state They say that the Argentine people can get rid of imperialism and bring about the reforms they need.

On the contrary, the completion of the national democratic revolutionary tasks of independence, cancellation of the debt, nationalisation of the banks most of which are foreign owned, as well as the elementary democratic rights of freedom from imperialist backed military dictatorships, cannot be won short of a socialist revolution.

For a Workers’ Government

The correct response to the bosses’ Bonapartism must be to intensify to the fullest extent possible, the methods of working class struggle. To take the boldest initiatives and firmest action possible. To build on the organisations and methods that have so far proven successful in forcing the bosses to a Bonapartist solution. To build the Popular Assemblies into working class councils or soviets. To form workers’ militia and food distribution committees. To raise a program of demands for the expropriation of the bosses and the creditors, for workers control, for the unlimited general strike, and for a workers’ government.

It should be clear that a ‘workers’ government’ is the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is a government that comes to power after taking power and smashing the bosses’ state including its armed forces. A revolutionary program must state what its objective is and how to get there. The limiting of demands to immediate or democratic demands does not point the way forward to socialism and leaves room for the reformists to win support.

To go from the popular assemblies and strike action which spontaneously develop, to soviets and the unlimited general strike which is aimed at the overthrow of the state, is a qualitative leap from bourgeois to socialist consciousness. This leap cannot develop without the intervention of already class conscious workers. Such a development requires a correct program and in turn a revolutionary party. A revolutionary program states what workers need now and shows step by step how to meet these needs by mobilising class struggle. It adapts concrete demands and tactics to concrete situations quickly in response to the changing conditions.

This can only be done by a party that combines theory and practice in the program. Why? Because without such theory and practice there can be no living program capable of applying lessons from the past and testing them in practice. How? This requires a vanguard party and democratic centralism.

A vanguard party by definition is a layer of workers whose understanding of Marxism in theory and practice makes them class conscious and qualifies them to act as a leadership.

Democratic centralism is the method by which the leadership leads. Democracy requires full discussion and debate with all differences allowed and tested. Centralism means unity and discipline in action around the agreed program so that it can be tested in practice. Lack of unity and discipline means that no conclusions can be scientifically drawn about the correctness of a program.

What is the Transitional Program?

Democratic, transitional and socialist demands must all be present as a complete package to allow workers to see the necessary transition from one to the other. For example the CA is a democratic demand and should always be accompanied by transitional demands such as jobs for all, a living wage etc. and by socialist demands such as nationalisation of the banks under workers control.

The necessity for a Workers Government to come to power to make this happen has to be stated from the outset to make it clear that only an independent armed workers movement can resolve the crisis in favour of workers and prevent a counter-revolution from smashing the revolution.

[from Class Struggle 43 February/March 2002

Written by raved

February 3, 2008 at 10:16 pm


leave a comment »

The reports that have flooded in from Genoa demonstrate what we have said since Seattle. There is no class base or organisation to this form of protest. Genoa proved this when 250,000 mainly workers were upstaged by battles between a few hundred anarchists and the cops causing the death of Carlo Giuliani. The revolutionary socialists that allowed themselves to be sucked into this protest need to stop and think. What we need is a strategic redirection of revolutionary youth in support the real anti-capitalist struggles developing all around the world such as those in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Korea, South Africa and Argentina.

The problem with the ACM is that it is an expression of the weakness of the working class in the current period. In the last 20 years the workers’ movement has suffered major setbacks. Not only have the unions and the social democratic parties in the imperialist world been typically replaced by Blairite liberal parties and non-unionised, casualised workplaces, but the defeat of the USSR and EE DWS’s has brought about a world-historic defeat for workers everywhere.

The ACM is a symptom of these defeats. It is based on a non-class mainly youth ‘movementism’ with few organic connections to the surviving labour movement. Instead of rebuilding the labour movement to take power in the workplace, the ACM movement aims for the highly protected and armed state machine whose very purpose is to repel attacks on bourgeois class rule. Instead of real class politics, the ACM indulges in staging televised street battles that are not strategically or tactically capable of building a working class seizure of power. Quite the opposite.

Events at Genoa show that the bourgeois state is prepared to use force to protect the interests of the ruling class. Therefore taking on the bosses’ states is not a smart tactic. Attacking its armed head is not the way to destroy the beast. Rather it is an invitation to the bosses to destroy the most advanced layers of young workers in isolation of the masses of workers. The ACM opens itself to state penetration and exposes new layers of young communists to the repressive forces isolated from the massed working class. Genoa showed that 100,000s of well-organised protestors could be disorganised and exposed to police attacks by the action of a few hard-core anarchists. Those links between anti-capitalist youth and the unions in the imperialist countries, and with the anti-capitalist struggles in the semi-colonial world are undermined by this lack of discipline.

The youth vanguard of the new new left needs a strong dose of Bolshevism. The Bolsheviks did not call for suicidal attacks on the state machine. Even when workers spontaneously rebelled during the July days in 1917, the Bolsheviks knew that they were not yet strong enough to take power and called on workers to pull back. Only when they had prepared the ground by creating ‘dual power’ where the workers had their own mass forces and militia, did they embark on an open attack on the state.

Such ‘dual power’ meant that workers had established control of industry, had formed workers’ militia and had won over crucial sections of the army. This meant that the working class had the capacity to challenge the ruling class state power and by defeating that power create a workers’ state.

Such a necessary development is lacking in the imperialist countries but it is emerging rapidly in the semi-colonial world where basic defensive struggles for jobs, welfare, workers rights and living standards come up against not only imperialist financial domination but also military repression. Such is the situation in South Korea, in Russia, in Papua New Guinea and in Argentina right now.

These struggles are not based upon adventurist attacks on the state. Rather they are actions that arise from demands for fundamental rights and conditions destroyed by imperialist super-exploitation. When imperialism forces the semi-colonial states in Korea, Russia and Argentina to cut jobs, wages and welfare, workers protests bring state repression. In each case workers strikes are met with state violence. In Korea and Russia police violence has driven the union leaders underground or face arrest. In Papua New Guinea when the police shot three students protesting at IMF austerity measures, elements of the armed forces joined the protest. In Salta, Argentina when police attempted to break up street barricades they were met with armed defence.

In all of these situations the necessary defensive struggles of organised workers and students leads to them taking steps to arm themselves against the state forces. The logic of these actions is the general strike and the formation of workers militia. In this event imperialism will launch military attacks and back the local state forces in suppressing workers uprisings. In Argentina, the fear that the insurrection in Salta will spread has led the President de La Rua to call for US military exercises in the region. Already in Colombia and Bolivia, US troops and intelligence forces are active in suppressing popular peasant insurrections. These military operations are crudely disguised as anti-narcotic ‘plans’ such as in Colombia or ‘peacekeeping exercises’ in Argentina. However they are dressed up they can only take place because the anti-capitalist movement in the imperialist countries is too weak to prevent them!

That is why the ACM in the North needs to become united with the ACM in the South in actual struggle. It is not sufficient to demand that debts be forgiven when already the imperialist military are deployed to enforce debt repayment!

It is not sufficient to demand respect for human rights when already the imperialists have broken up and ‘recolonised’ most of Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union, and terrorised the populations of Iraq and Palestine! The so-called ‘peaceful’ settlements in Palestine, South Africa and Ireland have all broken down because in the semi-colonial world, imperialism cannot continue to make super-profits and meet even the most fundamental democratic rights at the same time. The ACM in the North needs to grow up quickly and learn some basic lessons from the 1970’s when the anti-war movement physically tried to stop the US military from fighting in Vietnam.

The ACM will come of age when it succeeds in uniting workers, unemployed and poor peasants in an armed struggle to repel imperialism both in the semi-colonies and in the heartlands. To do so it has to refrain from adventurist attacks on the state and rebuild defensive struggles around the heart of capitalist production. That is the first step in creating workers power. Only when workers control industry, have built self-defence organisations and can win over rank and file conscripts in the armed forces, will they be the position to make the final assault on the head of the beast.

Class Struggle No 40, August-September 2001

Written by raved

August 28, 2007 at 8:53 pm