Communist Worker

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

Archive for the ‘CWG’ Category

Is Zionism Fascism?

leave a comment »

We reprint below [in a separate post] the FLT statement in opposition to the Israeli attacks on Gaza. The FLT takes the view that the Israeli state is ‘Zionist-Fascist’. CWG has historically opposed the analysis of Israel as a ‘fascist’ regime as it is a form of democracy. We are opening this question up for debate in our group. Here a CWG member puts the outline of an argument in support of the ‘Zionist-Fascist’ position.

Fascism is an extreme social movement that arose in Europe between the wars in response to the crisis-ridden capitalism of the early 20th century. It emerged under the threat of a workers’ revolution when bourgeois democracy had exhausted its ability to contain the working class. Its function was to smash the revolutionary vanguard before it could mobilise the working class in a revolutionary uprising. It employed an extreme nationalist, racist ideology in order to bind together the middle classes with sections of the working class in the name of defending the nation from communism.

Zionism is the founding ideology of the Israeli state. It is based on several founding myths that declare Jews’ God-given right to be the exclusive occupants of Palestine. It defends that right by constant reference to anti-semitism and the ‘holocaust’.

Zionism as a doctrine fatalistically submitted to anti-semitism. In the Europe of the early 20th century anti-semitic movements called on all Jews to ‘get out’. Zionism took up this call to provide a homeland to escape to. Yet in doing so, Zionism made many deals with the European ruling classes, not least the Nazis, in return for their cooperation in transferring Jews to Palestine.

The cost of these agreements to Jews was millions of more deaths than would have been the case had the Zionists not existed. The Zionists agreements with the Nazis were to concentrate Jews for shipment to labour camps and extermination camps in exchange for the freedom to select and relocate some Jews to Palestine. Where the Zionists were weak, resistance to Nazi extermination saved the majority of Jews. In some countries active opposition prevented any transportation and killing (Denmark). Where Jews fled Europe into the Ukraine or Russia they survived in their millions.

Thus Zionism is not an antidote to fascism but its junior partner in the death and destruction of Jews. The sacrifice of Jewish workers can only be explained by a Zionism that is the class ideology of Jewish capital. The Zionists representing the interests of the Jewish bourgeoisie which needed a homeland to defend their capital. Jews as finance capitalists facing the collapse of European capitalism before and after WW1 were both bankrupted by national capitals with which they were associated and forced to flee. Those who could not move their capital to new countries wanted to found a Jewish state to protect their capital. Not only that, they wanted a Jewish working class, selected from the European working class to establish a capitalist economy in Palestine.

The price paid by Jewish workers who were rounded up by Zionist organisations to feed the Nazi’s labour and extermination camps proved that Zionism was motivated by exactly the same class interests as the Fascists in Europe. They wanted to select a racially pure and strong stock out of those ‘concentrated’ in Europe, take them out of the hands of the ‘anti-semites’ who would work them to death, and save them for shipment to Palestine where they would become the core of a Jewish working class. Just as the European capitalist powers were prepared to sacrifice millions of workers in wars to defend their capital, the millions of weak, old and otherwise defective Jews who would not be of any ‘use-value’ in Palestine were similarly sacrificed.

But if Palestine was already being formed as a racially pure Jewish state in collaboration with the fascists, could it be any less fascist? First, Zionist reactionary nationalism was the ideology of Jewish capital facing destruction during the capitalist crisis of the interwar years and organised bourgeois, petty bourgeois and working class settlers to found a national homeland for Jewish capital.

Second, the class collaboration with the Nazi’s scapegoating of Jews, betrayed working class Jews into the labour and extermination camps and played into the Nazi’s objective to smash the communist movement. This complicity was critical, since working class Jews were strongly overrepresented in working class struggles and revolutionary organisations and even more so in the leadership of these organisations. Where the Zionists were unable to separate Jewish workers from the rest of the working class their role in the resistance proved that this was the only way to defeat fascism.

Finally, the very act of establishing the state of Israel mimicked the Nazi invasion and seizure of foreign lands. Palestine was already occupied by a large majority of non-Jews. The peasant and working class inhabitants were evicted, relocated in ghettos and concentration camps, and then terrorised by a policy of military genocide.

Dave Brown

From Class Struggle 67 June/July 2006

Written by raved

January 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm

General Strike to Bring Down Howard!

leave a comment »

Recently the NZCTU organized solidarity rallies in New Zealand in support of the ACTUs national day of community protest against Howard’s’ union busting legislation.

CWG supported the rallies but distributed a leaflet critical of the ACTUs electoral strategy to defeat Howard, and calling for a General Strike.

So the CTU wants unionists to turn out to their ‘protests’ on Tuesday in support of the ACTU national day of ‘community’ action. We should certainly get along there and raise our voices. But what should we say? Only trust the CTU heads or the ACTU heads as far as we can kick them!

The problem in 1991 and the campaign against the Employment Contracts Bill was that apart from a few small strikes, we were limited by the CTU leadership to ‘protests’. We didn’t force a general strike. The mass memberships of the unions were overwhelmingly in favour of at least a ‘national strike’. It was the CTU and union bureaucracy that stood in the road of a general strike. Even a strike that took the whole country out for 1, 2 or 3 days would have been better than nothing. If we had gone down in defeat it would have made the job of screwing the unions more difficult than it was in the 1990s.

The problem was that the rank and file of the unions did not exist independently of the bureaucracy and the ground swell of members’ anger was sold out by a small minority of officials. The CTU today is no different to the CTU that sold out the fight against the ECA in 1991. It is a labour bureaucracy committed to a partnership with the bosses on the bosses’ terms – sufficient profits.

It’s ‘protest’ is part of the Aussie wide national day of action organised by the ACTU. So as we would expect instead of the rallying cry being ‘workers unite to kill this union smashing Bill” we have the ACTU taking the line that ‘Aussies’ should unite because the Bill is ‘un-Australian’. What this means is that the ACTU is expecting to negotiate a better Bill without coordinated strike action – that appealing to public opinion will make Howard very unpopular and he will withdraw the most offending parts of the Bill.

Where have we heard this one before? Remember Ken Douglas getting up on the stage of the Auckland Town Hall telling the packed hall that ‘he’ would negotiate with the National government to improve the Bill? No strikes because that might make the government unwilling to negotiate. In fact we now know that Bill Birch was prepared to back off parts of the Bill if he had meet solid industrial action.

‘Un-Australian’? NO! Appealing to national sentiment to back negotiations is a sellout to the bosses. Australia is a capitalist, imperialist country, and until workers rise up and take power, Australia belongs to the bosses. If this Bill goes through workers will belong to the bosses too on individual nose-ring contracts. Right now it’s workers who have to be ‘un-Australian’ by chucking this patriotic bullshit of class unity behind the Aussie flag back in Howard’s face.

The 15th and thereafter should be devoted to preparing the Australian unions for a general strike to bring down Howard. We should be raising the red flag and the flag of the Eureka stockade not the Aussie flag with its symbolism of British imperialism and colonialism in the South Pacific.

NZ unions can play a vital role in this by refusing to handle trans-tasman sea or air cargo that breaks Aussie picket lines, like the seafarers voted to do during the big MUA blue in 1998. Meanwhile those of us who are committed to rebuilding the unions on the basis of democratic rank and file control should get along to these ‘protests’ as militant members of our unions and argue that appeals to nationalism are defeatist and that what is needed is a general strike to dump Howard.

Postscript: Predictable Results

There was a lot of self-congratulation following the massive turnouts on November 15. But as CWG predicted, these massive street rallies went nowhere. They were designed to create the impression that mass pressure could bring about electoral change. Howard ignored and insulted the turnout. Result?

True to form the ACTU has subordinated militant rank and file opposition to Howard’s Bill to an electoralist strategy of defeating Howard at the polls ‘next time’ and taking up Labor’s ‘offer’ to scrap the legislation. Pathetic!

What does Green Left have to say about this? It covers for the ACTU by refusing to call for a general strike, instead playing up the radical rhetoric of certain unions to stage industrial action at some future point. Pathetic!

Deputy Sheriff Howard No 2 Terrorist

Howard’s anti-terror squads stake out and raid a number of homes, arrest scores, shoot to kill, all to protect ‘us’ from terrorists.

But he is the No 2 terrorist. Aussie bosses backed Uncle Sam in Vietnam, terrorising and killing millions. They backed overthrowing Sukhano and the killing of half a million in an anti-communist purge in 1965. Aussie bosses backed Suhato’s invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the killing of another half million. Now Aussie bosses back Bush in Iraq and the US ruling class WOT.

How to fight back? Its no accident that Howard is copying Bush in the class war. His attacks on democratic rights come hand in hand with the attacks on labor rights. Aussie capitalism needs to smash the unions to boost the profits of monopoly capital. Any attempt to align politically with the ‘enemy’ of Howard’s ruling class will make you a terrorist suspect. The anti-terror laws are class laws designed to smash workers resistance.

The unions have to stand up and strike back against both attacks.

On the 15 November the ACTU has to be bombarded with demands to build a general strike to bring the Howard Government down!

From Class Struggle 64 Nov 05/Jan 06

Workers Charter: a New-New-Labour party?

leave a comment »

Workers Charter had its founding conference in October. CWG members went along to offer some advice. Here is a report of how we saw it.

We stand by our critique of the Workers Charter (printed in Class Struggle 62) and its parent movement the World Social Forum (critiqued in Class Struggle 59). We wish to continue to engage in critical support of the Workers Charter (WC). Communist Workers Group does not wish to build another parliamentary-type of workers party and will criticise unreservedly any movement the WC makes in that direction. We are keen to support the building of a revolutionary party, unfortunately the origins of the WC indicate that it will mislead workers.

Members of Communist Workers Group decided to test the un-democratic (Stalinist) methods of Workers Charter, which had said they were going to exclude us (and ACA) from the conference.  We considered it important to challenge the internet noise of SWO / Unity, on NZ activism, in reality. (The Socialist Workers Organisation has renamed itself “Unity”, it was previously the Communist Party of New Zealand – a Stalinist group). Unity members were the gatekeepers on the front desk and did interview us on how critical we were going to be, to which we wished to maintain our rights to speak critically, while giving a positive direction for the workers movement. This could have gone either way, however, the appearance of democracy was maintained.

The meeting rules were set out from the start, we had to leave if we thought the Charter was useless. This does not allow for overall discussion of the weaknesses of the Charter. Unfortunately the Charter may be worse than useless, it may suck working people into a dead end road, which does not challenge capitalism. It is urgent to pose the question of how to avoid this Charter becoming a bureaucratic parliamentary vehicle for the likes of Matt McCarten.

The speakers to introduce the Charter were a SWO leader followed by Matt McCarten. It wasn’t what was said but what wasn’t, that is notable: I failed to get a clear understanding of what the purpose of the Charter was from either speaker, and neither made distinct their own politics from that of the charter, or declared their own intentions. No history of the Charter, or connection with the World Social Forum was declared.

It was a milestone for the writer to be allowed into a Unity dominated meeting, and to speak. Our opportunity for contribution was time limited. The writer put about 5 amendments or additions within 2 minutes speaking time. This limited my ability to argue for the amendments and additions that were put to the charter itself.

Many others raised their criticisms and suggested improvement to the Charter –which created a squeeze on time, with numbers of amendments and additions put. Many of these were put to vote and successfully added, for the next rounds of discussion. And have improved this minimal program of rights. Some amendments were left as contentious issues for further discussion. I will leave much of the detail of the Charter and its ongoing discussion for Workers Charter to run with, and discus a couple of additions we put to the conference.

We asked for the addition of the word capitalism to describe current social system. This charter was so minimal in its approach that it did not even include the word capitalism or describe capitalists as the ruling class. While the WC is appealing to workers, the level of class consciousness in its program is minimal. To fight for workers rights is to take on the capitalist system, unless the charter is clear about that, then it is likely to end up like the current Labour Party, negotiating with and ruling on behalf of the capitalist class.

This sort of vagueness about class leads to a Labour Party outright attacking workers, to maintain profits for the capitalist. The NZ Labour Party clearly did that in 1984 – 1990 when it cut services to workers (health, social welfare, education) and sold socially owned assets or restructured them into capitalist ‘for profit’ SOEs (State Owned Enterprises). A very current example of this was discussed at the conference. Air New Zealand has just announced its attack on workers of the Engineering services by its proposed redundancies and closing of a whole branch of service. Air NZ is part owned by the state. We argued that the WC needed include nationalising assets (even the Alliance Party program already includes this in their program). To re-nationalise Air NZ fully could then be used in order to maintain those jobs. Pressure needs to be applied to the current Labour Government by picket line defence of the engineering facilities. If this Labour government allows Air NZ engineers to be sold down the road, that is another betrayal of workers interests. Communist Workers Group is for the expropriation without compensation of Air New Zealand, to be run under workers control. It would take a working class pickets and engineering workers occupation of the engineering facilities to achieve this.

Interestingly ‘Unity’ / Socialist Workers voted against an addition we put up of “for socialist revolution”. To us this indicates they continue a Stalinist tradition of running with minimal programs and mass parties, while hiding their “revolutionary” beliefs until the ‘critical’ moment. Even the pre-Blairite British Labour Party had a clause for “socialism” (also known as clause 4). So this WC is in great danger of becoming just another parliamentary party, sucking workers into sell-outs and a dead-end.

Communist Workers Group fully support building a party on a rank & file trade union basis. We were successful arguing for rank & file run, democratic fighting unions, to be included as part of the charter. Only a strong rank & file driven union can avoid being sold out by bureaucratic deals between misleading paid officials and the employer or government. Those sort of sell outs are rife, for example where union officials just argue about how many redundancies, and how much redundancy pay. Officials can give false hope of stopping redundancies, when they are up against the capitalist system.

Organising workers into picket lines and strike committees is the localised strength of the workers movement. The extent that Workers Charter members can build a fight back around existing struggles, can organise workers in on-the-ground fight backs, will be the real test. It is heartening to hear that WC members have supported pickets of striking workers. However it is also frightening that the WC steering committee (leadership) could have left out basic trade union rights from its Charter.

Communist Workers Group looks forward to working with any activist or group committed to the overthrow of capitalism. And we will criticise any movement that is vague about that!

Chavez’ ‘21st century socialism’ not good enough for Workers Charter

From a discussion on Aotearoa Indymedia
Unity Reader defended the SW’s ‘turn to social democracy’ and the expulsion of the CWG from the Alliance in 1989 and its exclusion from Workers Charter. A member of CWG replied:

“Someone called Unity Reader says that the SWO is justified in taking a turn to social democracy because socialist revolution is not on the agenda in NZ right now.

. . .There has never been a revolutionary situation in NZ in the nearly two centuries of its capitalist existence. And that is because the working class has never been independent of parliament or the bourgeoisie. The first step out of a non-revolutionary situation is to assert the class independence of workers from the bosses!

What Unity Reader fails to understand is that there is a difference between united fronts and revolutionary programs. In non-revolutionary times workers should join forces in united fronts that advance their interests as a class, but not by suspending their revolutionary program and making a ‘turn’ to social democracy – the bosses program! Revolutionaries are obliged to fight inside united fronts to prove that it is their program that will advance the interests of workers.

What Workers Charter is a reduction of the political program of the working class to a minimal program that does not even MENTION socialism. If this was just a loose network to organise in the unions and fight in united fronts, this would not be so bad. But WC presents itself as the embryo of a new mass workers party, on a social democratic program of the bosses

This takes us to Unity Reader’s ‘study’ of the history of the New Labour Party. The CWG entered the NLP because it its leaders claimed to be forming a new workers party. We were obliged as revolutionaries to fight for a revolutionary workers party, not meekly sit around while Anderton and McCarten betrayed the workers who had broken with Labour and took the NLP back into parliament as part of a middle class’ Alliance, which then propped up another Labour Government.

Workers Charter is headed down the same road, but this time it’s not a tragedy; it’s a farce. Its a farce because it has already been rejected by a large number of militants as too little, too late, based on manifestly dead-end reformist politics, and at a time when its own international allies, the militant workers of Latin America, Asia etc are moving rapidly towards socialist politics under a reborn ‘socialism of the 21st century’ championed by Chavez in the spirit of Che, Castro etc.

When the militant masses are moving in the direction of socialism, WC moves backward. This is not the ‘backwardness’ given by NZ’s particular place in the world, because in itself that’s deceptive and open to rapid changes, but the backward political perspective of those who have given up on socialist revolution in order to build another parliamentary party.

From Class Struggle 64 Nov 05/Jan 06 

Let;s Occupy the Foreshore, not Cabinet!

leave a comment »

An Open Letter to supporters of the Maori Party

Kia ora comrades,

We were proud to march alongside so many of you on the great seabed and foreshore hikoi. The hikoi has already taken its place beside the Great Land March of 1975, the waterfront lockout of 1951, and the anti-Springbok campaign of 1981 in the history of resistance to injustice in Aotearoa. We salute the courage and endurance of the marchers who defied the threats of politicians, the slanders of the media, and the verbal and physical attacks from racists and made Labour’s confiscation of the seabed and foreshore into a burning issue up and down Aotearoa.

We were proud to hikoi with you to Wellington, but we won’t be travelling to Wanganui for the launch of the new Maori Party. It’s not that we’ve changed our minds about the seabed and foreshore – on the contrary, we think that events since the passage of Labour’s legislation confirm the arguments of the hikoi ten times over.

We won’t be with you in Wanganui because we believe that the Maori Party represents a sharp turn away from the path of the hikoi. We don’t recognise the spirit of that great struggle in the Maori Party. In fact, we think that some of the pronouncements of the would-be leaders of the new party – Tariana Turia, Peter Sharples, and the rest – represent a betrayal of the politics of the seabed and foreshore hikoi. We think that you are setting out on a hikoi to hell, and we want to try to convince you change direction before it’s too late.

Hikoi to the Ballot Box?

We’ve been disturbed by some of the korero at pro-party hui held around the North Island, and by the statements that leaders of the new party have been making through the media. Movers and shakers like Tariana and Sharples have announced that they want the new organisation to be a ‘centre’ party, which can sit between National and Labour and negotiate with both to get the best deal – or, at any rate, the biggest number of Cabinet seats – for Maori.

Tariana tells us that the new party will be open to people of all political persuasions. Tuku Morgan has welcome at pro-party hui, and National’s Georgina Te Heuheu is being courted as a possible candidate in next year’s general election. Sharples has claimed that the new party ‘will have the same basic philosophy’ as Labour, and that Labour ‘would be fools to treat us as enemies’. On television with Gerry Brownlee soon after the hikoi, Tariana refused to rule out a coalition between the new party and National after the next election. Tariana’s by-election campaign manager Matt McCarten has defended the overtures to National as a ‘strategic’ measure designed to increase the Maori Party’s bargaining power. According to Tariana and McCarten, ‘the next hikoi will be to the ballot box’ and into a coalition with one of the big parties.

But why were we on the hikoi in the first place? Why did Maori and their supporters need to march all the way from Te Hapua to Wellington? What were all those blisters for? Wasn’t the hikoi necessary because Maori seats in Cabinet were not able to get a better deal for Maori? Hasn’t Tariana tried and fail to influence government ‘from the inside’? And didn’t Tuku and the rest of Tau Henare’s brat pack try and fail to do the same back in the late 90s?

New Party, Old Mistakes

We think that Tariana is repeating the mistakes she made after the occupation at Pakaitore back in ’95. Tariana won a lot of mana as a leader of that occupation, which defied the power of the state and won back a piece of the Wanganui River foreshore for Maori. After the Pakaitore, Labour dropped Tariana a line, telling her that she should occupy parliament. Tariana bought Labour’s line, and the rest is history.

Tariana lost a lot of her mana by becoming a Minister in a government which helped the US invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and which continued to implement National’s right-wing economic and social policies at home. Tariana’s decision to dump Labour for the hikoi has made her a hero again, but now she’s talking about going down the same old parliamentary road. Not only has Tariana not learnt from her mistakes, she’s hasn’t even learnt from the mistake of Tau and his New Zealand First mates. She’s talking about the possibility of going down Tau’s own road to nowhere, by forming a government with the Nats!

Local Battle, Global War

But why is the hikoi through parliament so hard? Why did Tau and Tariana fail? Why did Mat Rata fail? Why did Apirana Ngata fail? Why are Maori still second-class citizens, after more than a hundred years of Maori seats?

To answer these questions, we need to step back and look at the big political picture. We hikoied to Wellington, because Wellington is the political capital of Aotearoa. Wellington is where parliament sits and the big bureaucrats draw their salaries.

But Wellington is not the place where the most important economic and political decisions affecting Aotearoa are made. To go to the real heart of power, we’d have to hikoi to Washington DC, or to the Wall Street Stock Exchange in New York City. Aotearoa is an economic semi-colony of the United States, and that means that the US dictates the economic direction and general political programme of both National and Labour governments.

Multinational companies based in the US and other imperialist countries control most of the biggest businesses in Aotearoa, and wealthy Americans are snapping up our land. US money has effective veto power over important economic and political decisions in Wellington. US military and spy bases are dotted around Aotearoa, and Labour’s participation in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is driven by a fear of offending US money and the US government. ‘Free’ trade treaties like GATT only tie government hands more tightly.

The US exports its own economic problems to the rest of the world, and calls its export globalisation. In Aotearoa, globalisation has meant the privatisations and cuts in education and health spending of the 80s and 90s. Globalisation continues today, as Labour works hard to win a ‘free’ trade deal with the US by removing remaining barriers to foreign investment and the purchase of land, opening the door to GE, and doing the US’s dirty work in ‘little Iraqs’ like the Solomons and East Timor.

It’s not hard to see why Labour is crapping on Maori. Those cheeky darkies who descended on Wellington are a threat to the smooth progress of globalisation in Aotearoa. The Maori Land Court and the Waitangi Tribunal threatened to tie the government up in red tape, when it wanted to get on with reducing the barriers to the US buy-up of coastal land, and the US colonisation of the sea farming business. And the Maori demand for better funding for kohanga reo, housing and other necessities runs straight into Labour’s concern to keep government spending down so that it can cut company tax and woo US investors.

How they Hikoi in Bolivia

The hikoi was a challenge to the politicians and bureaucrats in Wellington and to the globalisers in Washington DC. It was our local front in the global war against the imperialists’ globalisation. It’s no coincidence that many young people on the march identified with the Iraqi resistance, and that some wore the head dress of the Palestinians fighting colonisation in Gaza and the West Bank. And, there’s no doubt the hikoi scared the shit out of the local agents of globalisation. Helen Clark was too afraid to show us her face, when we made it to Wellington! (Of course, Helen will be much less worried about a Maori Party which refuses even to call her the enemy. She’ll be keeping that Cabinet seat warm for Tariana…)

Maori and working class Pakeha have to understand that winning seats in parliament and at the Cabinet table means nothing, as long as their country is owned offshore. To defeat the enemy, we have to think globally, even as we act locally. We may have a powerful offshore enemy in US imperialism, but we also have a power offshore ally too, in the international working class. From Iraq to Argentina, US imperialism is being resisted by working class and oppressed people. When we talk about strategy and tactics, we should be looking at success stories overseas, not at local failures like Tau and Tuku.

We all know about Iraq, but too few of us are aware of the massive anti-US revolts that have been shaking South America for two years now. South America’s workers and peasants are fighting US imperialism, and they are winning. In Argentina, workers have reacted to globalisation by occupying hundreds of factories that US-owned companies wanted to close down. In Venezuela, the CIA has twice tried to overthrow the anti-US government of Hugo Chavez with military coups. Bush wants to get control of Venezuela’s oil reserves, but he’s been defeated, because millions of workers have taken to the streets, and others have occupied their factories.

In Bolivia, workers and peasants last year staged a hikoi of their won, pouring into their capital city La Paz to protest the US-backed government’s plans to wipe out coca farming and steal the country’s natural gas. In La Paz the Bolivians built barricades and stormed government buildings. President Sanchez de Lozada needed a US helicopter to sneak him out of the country, as his government collapsed and the people took over the capital. That’s how a hikoi should end!

Unity with Workers, not the Nats

There are many lessons to be learnt from the victories in South America. In Bolivia, protesters united across ethnic lines, because they had a common interest in getting rid of Lozada, a wealthy businessman nicknamed ‘the Yank’ because he spoke with an American accent. The Indian coca growers the US was trying to ruin united with mixed race urban workers, against a common enemy. In Aotearoa, we need the same sort of unity between Pakeha and Maori workers. Many Pakeha trade unionists and leftists marched to Wellington, but the majority of non-Maori were sucked in by Labour’s promises that its legislation would protect their access to beaches.

Now, only weeks after the first reading of Labour’s bill, the Department of Conservation has teamed up with Tourism New Zealand and some local councils to promote plans to charge the public for access to popular beaches, including Coromandel’s Cathedral Cove. In the south, Clutha District Council has plans to make motorists pay for access to the road that follows the scenic Caitlins coast. In the Hawkes Bay, locals are up in arms over local government’s decision to allow a US billionaire to desecrate the beautiful Cape Kidnappers by building chalets and tunnelling into a cliff. Pakeha are beginning to understand what Maori have been so angry about!

We all know that the politicians and the media slandered the hikoi, by telling the country that it was made up of greedy Maoris who only wanted to privatise the foreshore and exploit the seabed to line their own pockets. The hikoi challenged those slanders: at hui after hui speakers reiterated their support for public access to the foreshore, placards on the march called for Pakeha to join in, and Hone Harawira constantly emphasised that the seabed and foreshore issue was one for ordinary Pakeha as well as Maori.

By the time it reached Wellington, the hikoi had attracted a significant minority of Pakeha members, and the media had to drop some of its more outrageous slurs. But now, just when Pakeha are beginning to grasp the real meaning of Labour’s legislation, Tariana and other Maori leaders are discrediting all the arguments of the hikoi, by extending the hand of friendship to Labour, and even finding kind words for National! The Pakeha who took part in the hikoi were mostly left-wingers disillusioned with Labour. They understand Labour’s pro-globalisation agenda and oppose its involvement in wars in the Middle East as well as its racism at home. These people will be disgusted by Tariana’s and Sharples’ overtures to Labour.

And the great majority of working class, Labour-voting Pakeha will be even more angered by the Maori Party’s overtures to National. Seeing Tariana cosying up to Gerry Brownlee will only reinforce these workers’ misunderstanding of Tino Rangatiratanga, and tie them more closely to Labour. For their part, working class Maori who have broken with Labour over the seabed and foreshore will also be alarmed to see that ‘their’ new party considers Brash and Brownlee possible coalition partners. If Tariana isn’t careful, these workers will rush straight back into the arms of Labour!

Occupy the Foreshore!

Tariana’s ‘hikoi to the ballot box’ cannot solve the problems of Maori. It can only result in another generation of Maori being chewed up and spat out of Wellington’s political machine. Only direct action which takes back land and resources – land and resources stolen from working class Pakeha, as well as Maori – can reverse the tide of globalisation in Aotearoa. The time is ripe for Maori and Pakeha to unite and occupy threatened sections of the foreshore. We need to revive the spirit of Bastion Pt, Pakaitore and the seabed and foreshore hikoi, and safeguard places like Cathedral Cove, the Caitlins Coast, and Cape Kidnappers with direct action! Let’s occupy the foreshore, not Cabinet!

Kia kaha,

Communist Workers Group  
From Class Struggle 56 June-July 2004

Written by raved

January 6, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Victory to Iraq!

leave a comment »

On Sunday April 18 about 140 members of Auckland’s Arab community and a handful of their supporters marched to the US consulate. Organised at short notice and almost totally ignored by the media, the march was a powerful show of support for the armed insurrection shaking Iraq.

The demonstrators chanted slogans like ‘1,2,3,4 We don’t want your racist war!’, ‘ANZAC troops, out of Iraq!’, and ‘With our lives, with our blood we defend you, Iraq!’. CWG members on the march shouted slogans condemning the US repression of Iraq’s trade union movement, and called for the rebuilding of the Iraqi union movement and international working class solidarity with the resistance.

A group of young Palestinians delighted the march by improvising a song which paid tribute to the heroism of the defenders of Fallujah. A number of Islamist chants were aired, but when a CWG member raised an old Iraqi revolutionary chant at least a third of the crowd joined in, and others applauded.

Outside the US consulate a series of speakers emphasised the criminal nature of the US/UN occupation of Iraq, and the need to support the the Iraqi resistance to occupation. One Iraqi addressed the US government, saying ‘We are not responsible for the killing – get out of our country and we will stop killing you’.

Another Iraqi blasted Bush’s talk of democracy, saying ‘Freedom exists in Iraq only for Americans. Our country is being made safe only for Americans and Zionists’. A Palestinian speaker announced the news of the murder of Hamas leader Rantissi, and vowed that the intifada would continue until Israel was destroyed.

Bystanders were divided in their response to the demonstration. A handful were enraged, and shouted racist abuse and threats. Many, though, were very supportive. When the march passed a music store near the bottom of Queen Street a crowd of young people poured out of the store and applauded wildly. Dozens of motorists honked their support. A CWG member talked to a young American tourist who had spontaneously joined the march to show her opposition to Bush and solidarity with Iraq.

A disappointing feature of the demonstration was the absence of almost all of Auckland’s left-wing community. Apart from Students for Justice in Palestine, the CWG seemed to be the only left group represented. Several speakers emphasised the need for the Arab community to liaise better with the rest of Auckland’s anti-war movement, and to explain its cause better to the general public, and one speaker urged demonstrators to come on Auckland’s Mayday march.

It is certainly true that Sunday’s march could have been better advertised, and that the Arab community could make stronger links with the many Aucklanders who hate Bush and his imperialist war.

But the left and the labour movement also have some work to do, if they are to reach out to the community most affected by the War of Terror. In particular, the left and the union movement must learn from the militant anti-imperialism of last Sunday’s demonstration, and of the Iraqi resistance as a whole.

Auckland’s Arab community is connected by family and history to an occupation which is for most of the rest of us a matter of TV images and newspaper stories. For Auckland’s Arabs, the brutality of US imperialism is especially keenly felt, and the necessity of armed resistance to this imperialism is easily understood.

Last Sunday’s message of solidarity with armed resistance to US and NZ troops contrasts very sharply with the official line of this country’s mainstream peace movement and larger left-wing parties. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq last year, both the Alliance and the Green Party refused to support Iraqis’ right to defend their homeland against Bush’s armies.
Instead of backing the Iraqis, Green MPs like Keith Locke and peace movement ‘celebrities’ like Bishop Randerson used prime speaking slots at massive anti-war demonstrations to promote illusions that the UN and ‘international law’ could stop the war. When the war wasn’t stopped, disappointed demonstrators disappeared faster than Saddam’s WMDs. The active anti-war movement faded at the very moment the Iraqi resistance needed it most.

Twelve years of sanctions costing a million lives and a year of brutal UN-sanctioned occupation have made Iraqis somewhat sceptical about the charms of the UN. The Green Party, though, is still blindly calling for a UN ‘solution’ for Iraq. ‘Resistance’ is a word that is still absent from Comrade Locke’s vocabulary.

Our union movement has an even worse record than the Greens. Echoing Helen Clark, the national leadership of the Council of Trade Unions voted to oppose unilateral US war, but said nothing against a UN-sanctioned bloodbath. When the UN rubber stamped Bush’s conquest, Helen was happy to send troops, and the CTU was happy to keep quiet.

Some unions are going further, and seeking a slice of the War of Terror pie. The Engineers’ Union, for instance, has been lobbying John Howard’s government to build several frigates in Whangarei. (What’s next fellas – a tender for a New Zealand leg of the Star Wars system Howard is co-sponsoring with Bush?)

As rank and file trade unionists, we are disgusted and embarrassed by the failure of our movement to distance itself from the imperialist war machine and to show solidarity with the people fighting to stop that machine in its tracks.

Instead of acting as cogs in the War of Terror, our unions should begin a campaign of aid to the Iraqi workers’ organisations opposing the occupation of their country. In the 1930s, New Zealand unions sent money to the Spanish republicans fighting Franco and the Nazis, and some left-wing Kiwis travelled to Spain to join the International Brigade that took on the fascists on the battlefield.

Today, the Iraqi people are defying a colonial occupation every bit as dangerous as fascism. We need to support them by getting Kiwi troops out of their country, and by aiding their struggle for real liberation. Anything less would be a betrayal of the spirit of last Sunday’s demonstration. When we march with our Arab sisters and brothers this Mayday our slogans should be:

Victory to Iraq!
Defeat US/NZ Troops!
Build the Iraqi workers’ movement!

From Class Struggle 55 April-May 2004

Written by raved

January 6, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Aotearoa: Socialise the Foreshore and Seabed!

leave a comment »

The public uproar over the Foreshore and Seabed raises fundamental questions about what workers’ need as opposed to bosses’ greed. We are for the socialisation of the F&S in the interests of Maori and the vast majority of New Zealanders who are workers. We are for the socialisation of all industry under workers control. A good example is forestry. We need to socialise not only the trees but the mills and all the assets of the forestry corporations. Here we explain why only socialisation of the F&S can meet the needs of Maori and of all workers, and why this socialist project should be applied to other key industries in a project to socialize Aotearoa!

Labour tries to claim that the F&S is not a Treaty issue yet many Maori see it as part of honouring the Treaty. The problem is that the Treaty cannot be honoured by capitalism. The Treaty was always a fraud used to legitimate the expropriation of Maori land and resources. It is still a fraud because international capitalism far from giving it back has to steal more land and resources to restore its profits. This drive by imperialism to solve its crisis at the expense of workers and peasants worldwide is what is behind both National and Labour’s ‘Maori policy’.

Brash and Bush

Brash claims Maori are privileged by special treatment when Maori and Pakeha are ‘one people’ by virtue of the signing of the Treaty. Of course this was never the reality during the history of expropriation and oppression in the 164 years that followed. But Brash says the settlements must stop because legitimate Maori grievances have been redressed and now Maori are becoming privileged This is a ‘Maori policy’ in the interests of the US imperialism that trampled on the native Amerindians, the Filipinos, the Mexicans, and many others, and now re-colonises the world, imprisoning ‘illegal combatants’ and killing ‘terrorists’ who stand up to it. Brash and Bush are blood brothers in the extinguishment of the rights of all peoples subject to US imperialism. Brash’s position is to return the F&S to the ‘status quo’ which means Crown property. This allows the Crown to sell rights to the exploitation of the F&S to all comers competing in the world market according to the ‘free market’ ideology of the neo-liberals.

Labour’s social-democratic Maori policy by contrast draws on the notions of ‘indigenous rights’ established in the 1970s to make citizenship universal. Social-democracy is premised on the view of the equal rights of citizens to be eligible to vote and form a majority and reform capitalism. It holds to the concept of partnership and the ‘honouring’ of the Treaty principles to include historically marginalised Maori. But this does not allow any real economic redress for the colonial past. The Treaty process is one of token settlements between a new Maori bourgeoisie taking responsibility for ‘iwi’ and the crown acting for capital in general which is prepared to pay to remove any legal claims on the Crown for past grievances. Instead of improving the class position of most Maori workers, it increases the gaps between pakeha and Maori and divides Maori so that a Maori bourgeoisie exploits Maori workers.

Labour’s ‘public domain’

Yet even this settlement is an intolerable interference in the market for neo-liberals. That is why they condemn Labour’s solution as an attack on the rights of all New Zealanders to get free access to the F&S in the hope of mobilising racist attitudes towards Maori against the Government’s settlement. This is a dispute between neo-liberals and social democrats on how best to manage capitalism. For Labour buying off the Maori corporate class who want to make commercial claims to the resources of the F&S is hardly going to bankrupt international capitalism. And the price may be worth it if it sidetracks the protests into interminable legal channels like the land protests of the 1980s. Labour’s proposal of ‘public domain’ is such a deal. It will probably give Maori iwi corporates customary title and some limited preference over commercial use. Any stronger title would be to give Maori capitalists a commercial advantage over others and represent a barrier to the free movement of capital investment so beloved of the US globalisers. So Labour’s solution is an attempt at compromise between on the one hand the legitimate claims of Maori to uninterrupted customary use of the F&S to keep them quiet, and on the other the claims of international capital to have access to exploiting the resources of the F&S to keep making big profits.

But Labour’s ‘public domain’ is just another name for Crown or nationalised property. Some on the left claim that nationalisating the F&S is better than risking the F&S falling in private hands. This is because they mistake state property for non-capitalist or post-capitalist property. Nationalization is state property, but the property of the capitalist state, which acts on behalf of all (collective) capitalists. Today this means the biggest MNCs and their World Bank and IMF bankers who dominate states policies in every country. It’s true that nationalisation would remove private property titles (so-called ‘fee simple’) to F&S. The F&S could not then be traded as shares and there would be no immediate transfer of ownership into private hands. But this would not prevent the state from making joint ventures with corporates for profit under ‘free trade’ rules such as GATS which allows the privatization of these profits. And as with all nationalised property there is no class barrier to its legal privatization except the working class. That is why workers have to go beyond capitalist nationalisation to demand socialisation under workers control of the F&S and all capitalist property.

From nationalization to socialisation

Socialisation means expropriating the property of capitalists, individual or collective, so that becomes the property of collective labour. This can only be achieved by means of workers’ occupations and control. These occupations result from workers uniting and organising in democratic committees or councils. In the case of the F&S this would enable Maori, overwhelmingly members of the working class, to impose a new customary right, the collective right to use the resources of the S&F for iwi and hapu, and in the process to open up the F&S to the use of all workers on the basis of their needs rather than that of capitalist profit. Socialisation means that the F&S would be effectively expropriated to become workers property and pose the question of expropriating other capitalist property. Why? Because while the socialisation of the F&S would serve some workers needs, other branches of industry are much more important to the survival and reproduction of the whole working class. Forestry is a good example.

When workers occupy strategic sites on the F&S and make it the property of collective labour they will see the need to occupy and expropriate other key branches of capitalist industry such as forestry and manufacturing. They will then have to defend this property against the capitalist state and its forces of law and order dedicated to protecting the bosses’ property. The only way to do this is to combine all workers committees or councils into a social base for a Workers’ and Farmers’ Government that can expropriate all capitalist property and defend socialised workers’ property. Aotearoa would then become a socialist republic as part of a socialist united states of the Pacific. 

From Class Struggle 54 February-March 04

Written by raved

December 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm

For Permanent Revolution in Iraq

leave a comment »

As the US-led occupation faces increasing problems the international left is debating how to help free Iraq from imperialism. The position of the CWG and its allies overseas is that the international labour movement should give aid to workers’ organisations resisting the US, because it is the Iraqi working class which alone has the ability to defeat the occupation. Many on the left disagree, and are developing political illusions in the Islamist and ex-Baathist forces which represent the Iraqi capitalist classes. The argument for aid to working class Iraqi organisations is complicated by the fact that the most important Iraqi revolutionary group, the Worker Communist Party of Iraq, is pursuing some very bad policies. In this exchange from an international e-list, a CWG member answers an attack on the WCPI, and puts the argument for critical support for this group, and for permanent revolution in Iraq.
Dear Comrade S,

This is the part of the debate where I bow out, mainly owing to my utter contempt for the Worker Communist Party of Iraq. I remember well, a few years ago, when I was introduced to them. I was newer (obviously) at the practice and theory of Marxism and revolution and
extremely eager to get my hands on, as you say, genuine non first world socialist thinking. I discovered that Mansoor Hekmat (the recently deceased icon of the WCPI) was actually a Londoner; the WCPI (which “I” must always be qualified; Iran been used by these folks as
well), despite what your friend says, have no real base in these countries. This is not entirely their fault, under both Saddam and the Mullahs respectively there has been no opening to function. (PS the CPI have been refused membership in the ruling council, so they aren’t part of it, though they applied and were rejected).

Nonetheless, they operate in a fantasy world. They also are among the worst sort of sectarians and exemplify why we must discard the notion of a central command somewhere in an ‘international’ party or amalgam of parties. In Canada, just before the bombing of Iraq, they took to the streets with slogans calling for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. On International Women’s Day, they took to the streets with calls for the overthrow of the Islamic republic. The Canadian and North American states do not need such encouragement—who the Hell is that demand targeting? It only means that yet more ‘revolutionaries’ in this county are doing the bidding of the imperialists, sorry to say.

After the 9-11 attacks, both WCPI’s demanded that they wanted to join the anti-war coalitions. Their price was that we elevate denunciations of Islam and call for secular socialist state formations to the top of our demands, along with our calls for peaceful solutions based on international law, and this was in a coalition that included religious groups, moderate Muslim forces and the like.

Considering many of them as individuals have been tortured at the hands of the Mullahs or at the hands of Saddam, I accept their human disposition to have a visceral contempt for anything that smacks of going easy on Saddam Hussein. However, they also are currently more
concerned with making certain Baathists are ‘removed from their influence’ over all spheres of Iraqi life, schools, police, etc.

Fighting the imperialist occupation to them is secondary, or at least not clearly primary. However, as Trotsky said (since you like him) if ‘democratic Britain attacked ‘fascist’ Brazil, we would side with Brazil’. Ironically, though I’m no Trot, I’m upholding that basic principle
and the Hekmatian bunch are simply opportunistically doing whatever the flavour of the month is. I’m not interested in anything they have to say, their political experience has been one that makes the Islamists in Iraq currently look far more principled– not an easy task at all… They are not the genuine voice of anything but themselves.

Dear Comrade M,

I think your comments on the Worker Communist Party and the situation in Iraq contain some serious factual errors. I’m not for a moment suggesting that these inaccuracies are deliberate, but I think they are worth challenging, partly because they reflect what I think are problems with your general political perspective.

You say that I was wrong to claim that the Iraqi Communist Party went into the Governing Council, but the party itself has confirmed joining the Council. Here is an excerpt from an interview an Iraqi Communist Party central committee member gave in July, and which the party has posted on its official website:
“After properly and carefully evaluating the grave situation in the aftermath of war, which is truly a national catastrophe, the Party leadership decided to accept the invitation to join the Governing Council….It must be emphasised that the party’s aim has not changed: to ensure that the Iraqi people exercise their right to determine their political future with their own free will, and to bring about a speedy end to occupation, restoring Iraq’s national sovereignty and independence, and building a free and democratic federal Iraq. This will be the main criterion for evaluating and judging the Governing Council.” 
[full text at

I think your claim that the Worker Communist Party does not have a ‘real base’ in Iraq is also untrue. A Communist Workers Group of New Zealand member recently traveled to the Middle East to meet some members of the WCPI. Unfortunately he couldn’t get into Iraq, but he did have a chance to talk to Iraqi communists (most of them pro-Governing Council and thus hostile to the WCPI) who had recently spent time in the country. He got the strong impression that the WCPI was a force to be reckoned with on the ground in Iraq.

When I put this comrade’s information together with the wealth of information on the WCPI’s website and the reports that have made it to left news sites like indymedia and in some cases even into the bourgeois media, then I find it hard not to believe that the WCPI as well as the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq and the Unemployed Workers’ Union are not organisations of some size playing a significant role in the Iraqi left and workers’ movement.

Consider some of these reports: “A Forum Organized by the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq at General Railway Company in Baghdad. On September 9, 2003, the OWFI organized a forum at the General Railway Company in Baghdad, which has over 11,000 employees all over Iraq. Two hundred employees attended the forum, which was chaired by Yanar Muhammad, the head of the OWFI, and Layla Muhammad, the activist who returned from Australia to join the struggle of women in Iraq…”

“Hundreds of toilers from al-Huda suburb in Baghdad join the Worker-communist Party of Iraq. Al-Huda is a residential suburb in the center of Baghdad where hundreds of homeless families live. The inhabitants of this area are deprived of the basic requirements of making a living. On top of that they are pressured by the USA administration and local police to evict the area. Two weeks ago, the police forces attacked people in this area and arrested 8 of them.

They went to all parties and institutions seeking their release, with no yield. When the Organisation of Baghdad of the Worker- communist Party of Iraq learned about their situation, it decided to involve and solve their problem. The CWP Iraq was able to release the

“The Worker-communist Party of Iraq’s Forces Clash with a Crime Gang in Baghdad. On September 19, 2003, while patrolling the neighborhood where the office of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq is located on Al-Rashid Street in Baghdad, the Party’s forces clashed with an armed gang. While shooting at the security guards protecting the governmental buildings in the area and injuring one man, the gang intended to loot shops and governmental buildings. Under heavy fire, the gang was forced to escape the area…”

“The Workers’ Council of the North Oil Company Leads a Protest against Police misconduct. On September 21, 2003, the workers of the North Oil Company in Kirkuk organised a protest demonstration against the abusive conduct of the Police toward the company’s employees.

.Muhammad Raadi Oraybi, an activist from the Northern Oil Company’s workers council, was detained for 6 hours for standing against the despotic practices of the police. Raadi’s arrest sparked off a protest action in which more 400 workers took part…” From the English-language section of the WCPI’s site (

More recently the WCPI has been involved in an important strike by armed workers at the Brickworks at Nahrawhan near Baghdad.

You try to use Trotsky’s hypothetical war between Brazil and Britain to criticise the WCPI’s call for the overthrow of the Iranian theocracy and (in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq) the regime of Saddam, but nothing Trotsky said can be used to justify political support for either regime.

Using a hypothetical extreme example to challenge his audience, Trotsky said that in the event of a war between near-fascist Brazil and bourgeois democratic Britain workers around the world should prefer the military victory of Brazil, because Brazil was a semi-colonial country whose government was ultimately a product of imperialism, Britain was the world’s number one imperialist power, and a victory for Brazil would weaken imperialism.

But Trotsky never for a moment suggested that workers anywhere should give a modicum of political support to the government of Brazil, or to any other national bourgeois government or party anywhere in the semi-colonial world. Trotsky said that workers should aim their guns
in the same direction as the Brazilian bourgeoisie so that they could defeat this bourgeoisie in the process of defeating imperialism. Defeating the imperialists and defeating the local capitalists were not two distinct ‘stages’ – they were telescoped into a single task.

Trotsky’s whole politics was built on his theory of combined and uneven development, which had as one of its corollaries the argument that capitalist classes in the colonial and semi-colonial world were too weak to stand up to imperialism. Colonies and semi-colonies could only be broken out of the circuit of global capitalism by socialist revolution. Brazil vs Britain was a hypothetical case, but Trotsky and his followers put his argument into practice during both the Russian and Spanish revolutions.

In 1917, for instance, Trotsky refused to give any political support to the national bourgeois Kerensky government established after the February revolution (before the war Russia was regarded by the Bolsheviks as an imperialist country, but by 1917 it was surely effectively a semi-colony of the West).

When White Russians in the service of imperialism attempted a coup to get rid of Kerensky’s government the Bolsheviks gave Kerensky military support -pointed their guns in the same direction as the Kerensky government’s – without abandoning their call for the overthrow of this government by the workers. Only months after crushing the White coup they crushed Kerensky’s government and put the soviets into power.

I’m sorry to go on at such length about Trotsky and 1917, but I think it’s important that Trotsky’s strategy of permanent revolution is distinguished from the strategy which you appear to support and which he rejected, which is that of political support for and a political alliance with national bourgeois parties and governments.

The WCPI is right to call for the overthrow of the Islamic regime in Iran by the workers of Iran. The WCPI is talking, after all, about a brutal dictatorship that condemns half its population to a medieval existence as third-class citizens, and has locked up or simply executed tens of thousands of leftists and trade unionists. Who would want to support the continued existence of such a regime? Even the Stalinist left, which was deeply implicated in the coming to power of the Islamists, now calls for the overthrow of the regime.

Third Worldist politics have led you to adopt a position which no leftist organisation inside the real Third World country of Iran would today touch with a barge pole. The situation is no different when we turn to Iraq. In my experience, the Iraqis living in Auckland simultaneously wanted to overthrow Saddam and opposed the US invasion. There was no contradiction here – it was well-understood that US imperialism had put Saddam into power in the first place, and had kept him in power by collaborating with him to defeat the workers’ uprisings that believe it or not saw soviets established in parts of Iraq after the First Gulf War. It was also understood that Saddam’s rotting regime was completely incapable of stopping the US – only the mobilisation of the people who despised Saddam could defeat the US.

Where the WCPI goes wrong is in refusing to give any support at all to Third World capitalists resisting imperialism militarily. I quote from a recent CWG leaflet:
“The Worker-Communist Party condemns Islamist and Baathist fighters against the US as no better than the US itself. But by taking this attitude, the Party turns its back on tens of thousands of young workers who fight under the leadership of local capitalists. If US troops are shooting into a crowd, the people in the crowd have the right to shoot back, even if they happen to be Muslims. If a US chopper is shooting up an Iraqi village, an Iraqi has the right to
shoot it down, even if he belongs to the Baath Party. The rank and file of the resistance has to be won from its rotten leadership, not condemned for the policies of that leadership.

The bankruptcy of the Worker Communist Party’s position was shown after the US invasion in March – the Party refused to support the resistance to invasion and, desperate for some sort of ‘solution’, ended up calling on the UN to intervene to save Iraq.”

I agree with you that the WCPI has a too-extreme attitude to Muslim groups in the anti-war movement, but I think you are quite wrong when you argue that the flaws in the WCPI’s position ‘exemplify why we must discard the notion of a central command somewhere in an ‘international’ party or amalgam of parties’. On the contrary, the WCPI is a screaming example of the need for an international party which can bring comrades from different regions
together to analyse and criticise each other’s positions.

The WCPI is a prisoner of Iraqi history: it was formed as a reaction to the stagist politics of the Stalinist Iraqi Communist Party, but its founders never got a handle on the reasons for the political degeneracy of the ICP. In the 1970s they saw the ICP (encouraged by Moscow, Castro etc) go into government with Saddam, and were rightly disgusted. But they wrongly concluded that the ICP’s Stalinist politics of political alliances with the national bourgeoisie was the
logical consequence of Leninism and 1917, and so they threw Bolshevism out with the bathwater and went for ultra-leftism instead.

Because of the isolation of Iraq and the immense power of the ICP-Moscow propaganda machine, the WCPI’s founders never had access to the original rejection of stagism which Lenin and Trotsky made in 1917. They equated Stalinism and Bolshevism. The WCPI went into exile in Western countries where the self-described Trotskyist groups had mostly long since abandoned the theory of permanent revolution (it’s no coincidence the WCPI is polemicising against a Cliffite group). It’s not surprising the exiles didn’t see much to alter their impression of Bolshevism.

But the WCPI’s mistakes could potentially have been avoided by the criticism of groups that were still loyal to the politics of 1917. Now the WCPI’s membership in the global anti-war movement provides the ideal opportunity for us to simultaneously work with them and criticise them in an effort to improve their politics. That’s the idea behind our attempt to get international solidarity with the WCPI and the organisations it has founded going.

At the end of the day, the WCPI and the work it is doing in Iraq are surely important enough to deserve solidarity and assistance, even if the arguments get nowhere. It is surely perverse for a socialist of your obvious sincerity to have friendly words for Mugabe and Mahathir but ‘utter contempt’ for a socialist organisation on the frontline of the resistance to US imperialism.

From Class Struggle 53 November 03/January 04

Written by raved

December 15, 2009 at 12:05 am

When Comrades become Cossacks: Betraying the 1913 General Strike

leave a comment »

This November is the 90th anniversary of the 1913 General Strike. As the most revolutionary event in NZ’s history we have a duty to commemorate the dedication and bravery of the workers involved, to remember those workers who died, and to continue to draw the lesson that the police and the state forces are the class enemies of workers. The Exhibition “Cossacks and Comrades” jointly sponsored by the Auckland University of Technology Institute of Public Policy and the NZ Police, along with a number of unions, to ‘commemorate’ the “1913 Waterfront Dispute” is a falsification of history that seeks to relegate class struggle to the museum and promote the bosses’ agenda of ‘class peace’. For unions to co-sponsor and fund such an event is an act of class betrayal.

On Monday the 24th of November rank and file members of UNITE union and their supporters picketed the Comrades and Cossacks conference and exhibition at Auckland University of Technology. The 20 or so picketers objected to the way union bosses and the police were co-sponsoring this ‘commemoration’ of the 1913 General Strike, an event which saw state violence against workers on a scale never equaled in the rest of New Zealand history.

Comrades and Cossacks had as its centrepiece the release of new police research on the 1913 strike. In a press release promoting the event, academic Cath Casey, police ‘strategic analyst’ Cathie Collinson and police spokeswoman Catherine Gardner described the research as a contribution to “The international review of police of models of reservism”. An article in Auckland’s Central Leader paper quoted Cathie Collinson “This is a crucial piece of research because we need to know what works for different policing styles.” The Central Leader stated that Casey and Collinson are visiting various police forces and research institutes around the world to “further their understanding of policing methods”.

The General Strike of 1913 has much to teach the student of policing. Anxious about the growing appeal of the 12,000-strong and openly revolutionary ‘Red’ Federation of Labour, the Massey government of the day mobilised all the forces at its disposal to defeat the wharfies and miners who spearheaded the strike. As the police patrolled with long batons and the army set up machine gun posts in the large cities, thousands of farmers were turned into ‘special’ police, and put to work attacking workers and working the waterfront.

Comrades and Cossacks comes at a time when ‘anti-terrorism’ legislation is giving the New Zealand state sweeping new repressive powers, and the New Zealand police are aggressively persecuting opponents of New Zealand’s part in the US’s War of Terror. The lockup of Ahmed Zaoui and the persecution of anti-war activists like Bruce Hubbard (see article), Jarrod Phillips and Paul Hopkinson gives the talk of Collinson and Casey a chilling ring.

Comrades and Cossacks has caused a furore amongst unionists and left activists around the country. In an attempt to defuse complaints, exhibition supporter and Alliance leader Mike Treen e- mailed Global Peace and Justice Auckland (GPJA) members to tell them that ‘Comrades and Cossacks’ was not sponsored by the police. In fact, as an angry GPJA member pointed out in a reply to Treen, the police logo was plastered all over the promotional material for the exhibition.

UNITE leader and Alliance member Matt McCarten e-mailed GPJA members to tell them that UNITE’s rank and file members were ‘ignorant’, and were only planning to picket the exhibition because they wanted to ‘suppress working class history’.

On the day a number of the unionists who had been scheduled to appear at the exhibition did not turn up. Others walked out in solidarity with the picketers. About a dozen uniformed police attended the exhibition, and there was a police presence outside to stop the picketers gaining access. Matt McCarten emerged from the exhibition dressed in a business suit and flanked by two well-built cops, and proceeded to abuse the picketers, shouting ‘you’re not real workers – go away!’. After being confronted by angry picketers McCarten retreated behind the boys in blue, with whom he joked and chatted before disappearing back into the exhibition.

In the aftermath of this furore, UNITE members around the country are holding the Unite leadership to account at a number of AGMs. The Alliance also faces an embarrassing internal debate now that key members of the Alliance ‘left’ like former Trotskyists Mike Treen and Len Richards who would like to see the Alliance become a ‘Socialist Alliance’ have been associated with the Exhibition.

The involvement of Alliance leaders in Comrades and Cossacks is no surprise. After all, from 1999 to 2002 the party helped to run a capitalist state, as the junior partner in a Labour-led government. Alliance MPs voted for the anti-strike provisions of the Employment Relations Act, for the denial of summer dole to students, and for the participation of New Zealand troops in the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. The Alliance’s social democratic ideology made its leaders believe they could reconcile the interests of bosses and workers by taming the capitalist state. When the interests of workers and bosses inevitably collided, they chose the interests of the bosses, and used the state against workers.

The Anderton-instigated split and the electoral disaster of 2002 have made some Alliance members reconsider their ideas, but the leaders of the party have continued on the old path. Ex-MPs and their staffers have moved from government into the bureaucracy of the trade union movement and have merely promoted a slightly more activist-orientated, ‘left’ version of the same old social democracy. These bureaucrats played a leading role in Auckland’s anti-war movement, helping to ensure that the movement stuck to lobbying the Labour government to act against the war rather than mobilising workers and their supporters to take direct action against US government and military facilities in New Zealand.

Recent support for the racist cabotage campaign (see article) and for the ANZAC-led occupation of the Solomons shows that Alliance party policy is still based in a misplaced faith in the common interests of New Zealand workers and New Zealand capitalists. Comrades and Cossacks only symbolises the bankruptcy of the party’s social democratic politics. Alliance members should learn from history, dump social democracy for revolutionary socialism, and get rid of Beehive retreads like McCarten and Treen.

We need a real Socialist Alliance that pushes workers’ direct action in New Zealand and links up with and learns from with the revolutionary movements shaking South America. Socialist groups already in existence can show Alliance members the way forward by forming a nationwide United Front to campaign on burning issues and show the revolutionary alternative to the discredited ideology of social democracy. It’s time to rediscover the militant labour heritage of 1913, and the revolutionary Marxist heritage of 1917.

From Class Struggle 53 November 03/January 04

Written by raved

December 14, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Burn the National Flag!

leave a comment »

In this issue we confront head on the bankrupt politics of the ‘red-green’ left in NZ. We think that on the range of issues that matter today the left is retreating to a reactionary nationalism. In the last issue we welcomed Rabon Kan’s scathing reaction to the new immigration regulations shutting the door on Asians and the left’s complicity in this. We challenged the Seafarers cabotage policy that protects NZ jobs from foreign workers.

This month we take this analysis further. We show not only is the Alliance backing cabotage, but also in a significant rightward move, so is the biggest ‘far-left’ party, the Socialist Workers. We also tackle the critical issue of the Foreshore and put our class line on this question. This F&S question has released a gigantic wave of racism against Maori that sees Winston Peters –the Pauline Hanson of NZ –rapidly rising in the polls. Hanson’s jailing in Australia recently has shown that her once extreme brand of racism is now becoming respectable.

Journalist Paul Holmes gaff calling Kofi Annan a “cheeky darkie” and keeping his state funded job shows just how respectable racism has become in New Zealand. Like immigration, the Foreshore issue is revving up racism in NZ. But what makes it respectable is the politics of the social democrat Alliance and their intellectuals allies like ARENA who sow illusions in kiwi workers joining with their bosses to return to economic protectionism. Rallying to the national flag divides workers and puts us on the slippery slope to racial conflict and ‘national socialism’ that will make Rob Muldoon’s fortress NZ and racist Springbok Tour provocation of the early 1980s look like the Noddy Horror Show. 

When kiwi workers look to their weak capitalist governments to protect their jobs, their country and their foreshore from the aliens inside and outside the country we know we are heading for dark days. Workers who can’t see themselves as a class able to fight for their jobs by joining forces with foreign workers, are also incapable of giving support to the national rights of Maori to control over resources never formally stripped from them. Rather they back a weak national bourgeois government that has no interest in protecting NZ capitalism and is the open agent of imperialism, making NZ workers pay for imperialist profits. 

NZ is a client state of US imperialism and effectively a poor ‘7th state’ of Australia. Grovelling before this parasitic kiwi client state is a mark of a labour movement that is already defeated. While kiwi workers are engaged in a diversionary fight to defend the beachhead from the alien invasion, global capitalism rips out jobs and resources in land, sea, forestry and industry and smashes the unions in the process. It backs Bush’s war on terrorism to send kiwi soldiers to oppress Iraqis and Solomon Islanders and passes legislation to secretly charge and jail Ahmed Zaoui. It is unable to fight back against Labour’s Job Jolt attack on beneficiaries which is nothing more than an attempt to force them into the labour market to lower wage costs and boost imperialist super-profits. Or the ‘work-life balance’ plan to allow the bosses to tap into the fluid labour pool on their, not workers, terms.

But why do workers’ fall for this? In a series of articles we have run on the World Social Forum which we continue in this issue, we go to the root of the problem. The weakness of the working class is not because it is less exploited today or less capable of fighting back. It is the petty bourgeois reformist leadership in the unions, in politics, the media and the universities that conspire to keep them powerless. Trying to escape the working class, this caste of bureaucrats gains financially from managing workers on behalf of the bosses. But the only way they can prevent militant workers from kicking them out is to pretend to be doing it in the name of ‘market socialism’. They stake their credibility on identifying with populist governments like Lula’s in Brazil or Chavez’ in Venezuela, ‘socialist’ regimes like Cuba, or liberation movements like Colombia or Nepal, or their record as Trade Union organizers or as ‘anti-capitalists’. 

But their version of socialism is no more than a reformed capitalism. As we argue in this issue, the world-wide reactionary role of the World Social Forum (and its NZ spin-off Socialist Forum Aotearoa) is rooted in the special interests of privileged bureaucrats who ultimately serve imperialism. They make use of the radical posturing of celebrity intellectuals like Chomsky, Klein, Monbiot, Hardt and Negri etc. and their critique of ‘market’ capitalism (i.e. the uncontrolled market) to trap workers struggles everywhere in alliances with the bosses. We hope to convince all those who have any illusions ‘green left’ politics or in the WSF that this project of transforming ‘market capitalism’ into ‘market socialism’ is futile and destructive. We invite them to join us in fighting for a working class solution to jobs, welfare, the foreshore and trade. We invite them to become revolutionary communists.

Call for an International Conference of Principled Trotskyists

leave a comment »

From Class Struggle 51 July-August 2003

The revolutionary organizations that jointly wrote and signed this document – Lucha Marxista of Peru, Groupe Bolchevik of France, the Communist Workers’ Group of New Zealand, the Grupo Obrero Internacionalista (CI) of Chile and the Liga Obrera Internacionalista (CI)-Democracia Obrera of Argentina – agree to call, on the basis of the principles and the programmatic lessons contained in it, an International Conference of Principled Trotskyists and revolutionary workers’ organizations.

We met in the Congress of the COTP-CI [COPT-CI is Committee of Principled Trotskyists – Fourth Internationalist – the grouping of Workers Democracy of Argentina and Workers International League of Chile.] in Buenos Aires in December 2002 and, during the heat of the Argentinean revolution, the heroic fight of the Palestinian people and of the preparations for the war against Iraq, we decided to launch a call for an International Conference on the basis of revolutionary lesson and essential programmatic agreements on these crucial facts of the world class struggle. A first result of these agreements and this common fight, was the joint declaration before the war against Iraq, published on January 22nd, 2003,[Class Struggle # 48 March/April 2003] raising a principled and internationalist position against it, and concentrating the struggle against the treacherous leaderships grouped in the World Social Forum – a real counter-revolutionary international – and against those revisionist Trotskyists and the liquidators of the Fourth International currents whether they are subordinated to the WSF or not.

In the few months since then, the world proletariat has entered into new struggles and suffered new defeats and repeated betrayals such as in Iraq, in Palestine, in Argentina, in Bolivia, in Venezuela.

We, the revolutionary internationalists, must firmly say that the partial victories won by the counter-revolution and the bourgeois-imperialist reaction are not because of the lack of heroism of the exploited in these fights, nor because of the technical and military advances of the genocidal imperialist troops, but the betrayals of the treacherous leaders of our class.

The revolutionary upsurge at the end the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s was a world wide process: themobilization of youth and workers in China; the anti-bureaucratic revolution in Czechoslovakia; the war fought by the Vietnamese people; the general strike in France; the large scale strikes in Italy; the victorious miners’ strike in Great Britain, the national movements in Ireland and the Basque Country; the students’ movement in Mexico; the revolution in Bolivia; the Cordobazo in Argentina; the fight of the Blacks and anti-war movement in the United States; the revolutions in Chile and Portugal; and so on. But this wave was contained and betrayed by the bourgeois or petty-bourgeois nationalists and the treacherous leaderships of the workers’ movement.

From the 1980s, new defeats inflicted on the world revolution allowed the bourgeoisies of the imperialist countries to take the offensive again. A critical turning point was the defeat of the British miners in 1985, but the decisive event was the destruction of the USSR in 1991 and the subsequent restoration of capitalism in the former USSR and Eastern Europe by the Stalinist bureaucracy that had usurped workers’ power from 1924.
This historical victory of the world bourgeoisie encouraged American imperialism to lead the coalitions that crushed Iraq in 1991, the Balkans in 1999, Afghanistan in 2002, and Iraq again in 2003.
But the imperialist powers cannot stabilise the situation. At the end of the 20th century, the Palestinian Intifada that began in 1987; the mass demonstrations in East Germany and in China in 1989; the strikes of November-December 1995 in France; the strikes of 1997 in South Korea; the revolutions of Albania and Indonesia in 1997; came one after the other. The 21st century began with powerful mobilizations of the masses, such as the heroic struggle in Palestine in 2000, the revolution in Argentina in 2001, and the rising in Bolivia in 2003. The imperialist mobilisation for war on Iraq was answered by an enormous anti-imperialist mobilization of the masses all over the world, that reverberated in the heartlands of the imperialist countries.Today the workers of Europe put up a fierce resistance to the liquidation of the historic gains won during preceding revolutionary advances.
It is necessary to tell the truth to the masses, no matter how hard and cruel: the defeats, the retreats in the revolutionary processes, the military defeats of the oppressed nations, they all resulted from the treachery of the existing leaderships of the proletariat and the exploited masses, which are in most cases, grouped in the World Social Forum today.
Imperialism, with this succession of counterrevolutionary victories, is looking for a way-out from the world economic crisis, by making the world working class and oppressed peoples produce more surplus value. At the same time each imperialist country is competing against its rivals for the resources and markets of the colonies, semi-colonies of Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and the former workers’ states. It has to be seen yet whether imperialism can resolve its crisis by these means.To achieve this the counter-revolutionary leaderships of all kinds must consolidate the triumph of the counter-revolution by forcing the masses to the conclusion that imperialism cannot be defeated, and therefore must be accommodated.
Therefore, the immediate perspective for revolutionaries in the current world situation is dictated by the reality the working class is experiencing of the wars, economic crises and sharpening of the class antagonisms of the imperialist epoch.
We believe that under these new conditions it is necessary, on the basis of the revolutionary lessons of the many struggles, of the defeats and the betrayals suffered by the world proletariat, to clearly separate the reformists, liquidationists and centrists from the revolutionary internationalists, and to prepare the international proletariat for the coming battles, as the imperialist counter-offensive begun in the mid 1980s, now sharpens against the working class, the workers’ states,[countries were capital has been expropriated and which so far survive capitalist restoration. The ‘group of five’ agree that Cuba and North Korea remain ‘bureaucratic workers’ states]and the oppressed peoples of the world.
Under these conditions of economic crisis, war, and revolution, the struggle of revolutionary internationalists to unite on the basis of these lessons and a revolutionary program to prepare for the coming struggles, is a task of utmost urgency.
Today the imperialist war against Iraq –as before it the heroic Palestinian struggle and the Argentinean revolution –has established a new Rubicon not only of the treacherous workers’ leaders, but also of the revisionists of Trotskyism who provide a ‘left cover’ for the class traitors. The various wings of the liquidators of the Fourth International cling to the shirt tails of the UN and the French and German imperialists, collaborate with the stinking corpse of Stalinism and social democracy, with the national bourgeoisie as in Venezuela, and with the radical petty bourgeois nationalist movements such as Hizbollah and Hamas.
In the Argentinean revolution, they are the enemies of the struggle of the masses to create armed, self-organising mass organs based on direct democracy, and they use the minimal and democratic demands of the revolutionary program as a chain around the neck of the masses. They became the servants of the stinking remains of Stalinism and supporters of the notorious, hated regime.
In Brazil, the revisionist currents of Trotskyism and liquidationists of the Fourth International have openly supported and called workers to vote for the class collaborationist government of Lula-Alencar, and some ministers, governors and Secretaries of State of the Brazilian reactionary regime come from their ranks.
In France, these currents support of the imperialist regime of the Fifth Republic: they have openly called workers to vote for “the lesser evil”, for Chirac against Le Pen; or they have supported it by of refusing to fight for an election boycott and for a general strike before the second round of the elections. In France, in Spain, in Italy, in Great Britain, etc., these currents are completely subordinated to social democracy, to the new parties of recycled Stalinists, and to the workers’ aristocracy and the trade-union bureaucracies.
These are only some examples how the liquidators of the Fourth International have crossed the Rubicon. These liquidationist and revisionist currents do not leave in place one stone of the theory and the program of revolutionary Marxism. Their bankruptcy is complete.
Because of this bankruptcy we must extract the revolutionary lessons from the past struggles and the betrayals we have suffered. We must prevent the flags of Trotskyism and of revolutionary Marxism from remaining in the hands of these misleading usurpers. We must unite the dispersed ranks of revolutionary internationalists. We must fight to set up Leninist combat parties, and to build a revolutionary international.To achieve all of this, is it necessary to convene an international conference to re-group the healthy forces of the workers’ movement and in particular of those who say they continue to fight for Trotskyism and the Fourth International.
Those who call for this Conference all come from the splits in the Fourth International, and we still have differences that we will publicly debate in our press in the period before this International Conference. The most significant of these differences is over the present character of the revolutionary international.
For the comrades of the CWG of New Zealand, it is necessary to struggle for a new Fifth International. The comrades of the Groupe Bolshevik of France and of Lucha Marxista of Peru say that the organization built by Trotsky, the Fourth International, is dead, but its program is still alive and that militants and regroupments are still seeking to apply the program for the world socialist revolution. Consequently they raise the algebraic expression “for the revolutionary workers’ International” saying that it will be the debate and conscious action of the living forces building this international that will determine its concrete form.
For the Argentinean and Chilean comrades of the COPT-CI, the fight today, more than ever, is for the regeneration and the refoundation of the Fourth International. The theory and program retains their validity and actuality and have passed the test of history. It is the usurpers and renegades of Trotskyism who have not passed this test. Therefore, it is the validity and actuality of its theory, program and strategy that determines the number of an International, as has been demonstrated several times by the experience of the world proletariat since the middle of the 19th century.
But we will discuss these differences –and others that exist before the International Conference –within a common international bulletin, since we are linked by our programmatic agreements facing the explosive events of the international situation: of crisis, revolution and war. So, we are far from any centrist alchemy and from signing agreements with those who will then go away and betray the proletariat.
Therefore, we call for an International Conference to go forward towards setting up an International Center of Revolutionary Marxism. The program we promote here for this Conference is not written for small circles of intellectuals or for the editorial boards of Marxist papers. It is a program that we undertake to develop –and to fight for it –in the heart of the workers’ organizations in our countries. Hundreds of workers’ and class struggle organizations are affiliated to the World Social Forum, tied to the UN and the French and German imperialists by their treacherous leaderships. Our fight will be to win mass support for this revolutionary program from the combat organizations of the working class. They will have an honoured place beside the revolutionary Trotskyists.
The epoch of crises, wars and revolutions will not allow the would-be liquidators of Marxism and of the Fourth International to rest in peace.Our forces are very weak, but our program and the ideas that we defend are the fruit of more than 150 years of struggle by the world proletariat. They deserve to live, and sooner rather than later, they will be adopted by the many millions of exploited who enter into class combat.
Long live the struggle for an International Conference of the healthy forces of Trotskyism and of the revolutionary internationalist workers’ organizations!
July 2003
Collective for an International Conference of the Principled Trotskyism
§Communist Workers’ Group (New Zealand)
§Groupe Bolchevik pour la construction du Parti ouvrier révolutionnaire, de l’Internationale ouvrière révolutionnaire (France)
§Grupo Obrero Internacionalista Cuarta Internacional (Chile)
§Liga Obrera Internacionalista Cuarta Internacional – Democracia Obrera (Argentina)
§Lucha Marxista (Peru)

Written by raved

January 6, 2009 at 8:52 pm