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Make May 1st Iraqi Freedom Day!

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A big leap forward in the anti-war movement

March 19, marking 2 years of occupation, saw an important step up in the international campaign to stop the war in Iraq. The mass rallies that took place right around the world called for “Troops Out Now”. In the US twice as many rallies were held than last March 19. 30,000 marched in the Bay Area, 15,000 in New York City.

Many of the 100,000 protesters in Italy, for example, added the demand that Iraqis have the right to resist the occupation. They were joined the previous day by 200,000 striking public sector workers opposed to the economic attacks of the pro-war Berlusconi Government. Others demanded solidarity with the Iraqi Resistance.

What was new on March 19 was the much increased rallying of organised labour. The connection between jobs, livelihoods, and war is being driven home to workers everywhere.

Bosses’ wars take workers’ lives!

In the US the Million Worker March Movement, formed last year to protest Bush’s attacks on the labour movement, called for and co-sponsored the anti-war actions. The ILWU Local 10 in the Bay Area stopped work closing down the ports (photo above).

In New York City the rally marched through the African-American neighbourhood of Harlem and was addressed by Brenda Stokely a leader of the Day-care Workers Union.

In Auckland, NZ, the rally was organised by trade union activists and two of the four arrested by police were union organisers.

In Brussels over 100,000 youth, unionists and anti-war activists rallied linking demands for jobs, for a ‘social’ Europe (see article on Europe). in opposition to the imperialist war in Iraq.

In Turkey, prominent among the 20,000 were members of the Workers’ and Engineers Unions.

This growing labour activism is important, because while there are now over 5000 US troops who have refused to fight in one way or another, and while the Iraqi resistance continues to add to the toll of over 1500 US military personnel, only the mass strike action of the labour movement can bring the US and British military machines to a halt and defeat the imperialist war terrorists.

Only such a defeat can stop the imperialists from extending their ‘war of terror’ to Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and beyond.

Stopwork to stop the war!

Two examples: the ILWU Local 10 stopwork is part of a proud tradition in this union which stood against the Korean and Vietnam wars, and in 2003 resolved to oppose the US war against Iraq. The call to ‘stopwork to stop the war’ is a call that the international labour movement must now pick up and act on.

Second, in Auckland, New Zealand, a small militant protest of around 200 occupied the headquarters of the Australia and New Zealand Bank in the city for 30 minutes publicising the fact that this bank was profiteering from the occupation of Iraq and calling on the bank workers to take action against management.

This demand is a model for industrial action on the part of all those workers employed in the multinational banks, oil companies, military corporations and service providers currently profiteering in Iraq, to take industrial action against the blood money paid for by over 100,000 Iraqi lives during the occupation.

These two examples show how it is possible for organised labour internationally to take action to stop this imperialist war and occupation to re-colonise and plunder the assets of Iraq.

Make MayDay Iraq Freedom Day!

This is why we have to take up the call of the Million Worker March movement in the US to make May Day an international day of labour action against the war!

May Day is the traditional day when workers all around the world commemorate the history of struggles that have advanced the cause and rights of workers. If there is a cause that unites workers globally it is to resist wars of their imperialist ruling classes. Workers are the cannon fodder expended in their bosses’ grab for territory and resources.

Workers sacrifice not only their lives, but their living standards as the huge financial cost of wars are taken out of the jobs, wages, health and other social spending vital to workers lives.

May Day is the day when workers must revive the traditional slogan that ‘Workers of the World Unite’ against bosses’ wars and their causes – the drive by imperialist bosses to make workers pay in every way in their grab for the diminishing resources of oil, gas, and other raw materials that sustain their profits.

Solidarity with the Iraqi Resistance!

But it is Iraqi workers who pay the highest price in lives lost and a country smashed. Not only do Iraqi workers have the right to resist the imperialist occupation, workers everywhere have a duty to support them. The Iraqi workers alone have an interest in evicting the imperialist occupiers. This is because the various nationalist factions led by Baathist or Islamic leaders are only concerned to do deals with the US which will allow it to retain ultimate control over Iraq and the wealth created by Iraqi workers.

That is why on MayDay we must call for international support for the rebuilding of the Iraqi unions in defence of jobs, for the rights of women, for the nationalisation of industry under workers’ control, for imperialist reparations, and for a national plan to rebuild the economy under a workers and small farmers government!

Stop work to stop the war!

No workers’ lives for bosses’ wars!

Solidarity with the Iraqi resistance!


From Class Struggle 60 March-April 2005

Written by raved

January 11, 2010 at 10:53 pm

United States: the Movement of the March of the Million Workers.

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  • For a class program, anti-imperialist and the fight for the unity of the world working class
  • Solidarity with the North American workers’ vanguard.
  • Support its anti-imperialist, internationalist and working class mobilizations for the 19th of March and 1st of May!
  • Call to the militant workers organizations of Latin America and of the world

The North American working class, the main ally of the exploited workers and peoples of the semi colonial world, because it can strike at the heart of imperialism, has begun to wake up. The vanguard workers of the United States and their militant organizations have begun to look for a way to fight against the war in Iraq, opposing their own imperialistic bourgeoisie, and the attacks that Bush and the ruling class make on their historic gains and living standards, and against the rotten union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO, servants of the imperialist bourgeoisie.

They have launched the Movement of the Million Workers March against the war, adopting the call originally made by Local 10 of the Oakland dockworkers (ILWU). Hundreds of local unions have signed up to this call breaking the discipline of the bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO. The MWM Movement mobilized about ten thousand in Washington on 17th October 2004 calling for the immediate return of the Yankee troops from Iraq. Now, it has issued a new declaration, calling for “the unity of the rank and file of the unions in the fight for the rights of workers and the end of the war in Iraq”, raising an anti-imperialist and working class independence program, based on the united struggle of the international working class.

This call by the militant workers vanguard of the United States, stands up against the union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO which adheres to the sell-out World Social Forum. This declaration by our North American class brothers and sisters challenges the subservience of the AFL-CIO to Bush and the Democratic Party that is creating a big crisis in the unions in the US. The unions in the epoch of imperialism are totally dominated by the labor aristocracy and the labor bureaucracy and their reformist programs. This proves that the rebuilding of the unions will only come as the result of the most militant workers guided by a revolutionary program.

This Movement and its declaration came as a breath of fresh air for the exploited workers and peoples of the world. It proves that the future of the North American working class is in the hands of its most exploited sectors, the African-American and migrant workers who are the backbone of the new militant movement. The African-American and Latino workers, immigrant workers, and the unemployed workers are the rank and file troops of this movement and they are flexing their muscles against the privileged workers aristocracy and the labor bureaucracy, struggling to unleash the power of the North American working class!

19th of March, all out against the war in Iraq, all out for May Day all over the world!

In their struggle to revive proletarian internationalism, this new militant Movement has forged links with the Zengakuren students and the railway workers of Japan fighting against privatization of rail, marking a leap forward in the international cooperation of workers organizations.

A delegation of this Movement also joined with Japanese workers who traveled to Tokyo to protest outside the owners’ head office against the lockout of hotel workers in the USA. It has also established international solidarity links with the Korean Confederation of Unions (KCTU) as it prepares for a general strike.

Its call to the antiwar and workers organizations in the United States to jointly organize on the 19 of March – marking two years since the invasion of Iraq – a big mobilization in New York, demanding the immediate end of the war and the return of troops from Iraq, is a major step forward in the anti-imperialist struggle. Its call to reclaim the 1st of May as the international day of struggle for the world labor movement, with a worldwide day of action against the imperialist war in Iraq and in defense of the demands and the rights of workers, clearly marks an historical event for the world proletariat.

Long live the North American workers’ vanguard and its militant organizations, who have erected in full view of the world’s workers a barricade for class independence against the imperialist massacre of our Iraqi brothers and sisters by their own bourgeoisie, and against the workers aristocracy and the union bureaucracy, and for proletarian internationalism!

The North American workers vanguard raises the barricade of working class internationalism objectively opposed to the barricade of the World Social Forum and its politics of class collaboration

Though the leaders of the MWM Movement do not see this, the proletarian, anti-imperialist and internationalist demands of the Movement objectively raises a barricade against the World Social Forum and the policy of the AFL-CIO. In the heart of the imperialistic beast, class against class, there is now a class struggle barricade; a barricade against the World Social Forum, opposed to the policy of the AFL-CIO in the United States, and of the labor bureaucracies and the social imperialist parties of Europe, all serving the class interests of their own imperialist bourgeoisies; a barricade against the counter-revolutionary class collaboration politics of treacherous nationalism, which the Castroists, stalinists, and labor aristocracies and bureaucracies of all types –with the collaboration of the liquidators and renegades of Trotskyism – try to strangle the vanguard of world working class.

It will not be the Iraqi bourgeois fractions, Shiite, Sunni or Kurd, all minor partners of imperialism and the betrayers of the national resistance against the invader, nor even the heroic resistance of the workers of that blood soaked nation that wins the war against the imperialistic invader. On the contrary, the main ally and the decisive factor in the victory and the liberation of the oppressed peoples of the world, is the North American working class that is now beginning to find its strength to attack the imperialist beast at home.

It is not Chávez, Lula or Kirchner – nor Fidel Castro, the stalinist unions, the bureaucracies and the reformist leaders of all colors, who subordinate the working class to the bourgeoisie and prop-up its regimes and governments – that are the allies of the working class and the poor farmers of Latin America. Rather it is the working class of the United States and in particular, the African-Americans, Latinos and immigrants – the most exploited, oppressed workers who are treated like pariahs – who today begin to find their strength and to organise themselves in the Million Workers Movement!

The big majority of the liquidationist currents of Trotskyism have now officially joined the World Social Forum at the 5th meeting in Porto Allegre at the end of January of 2005. They have already chosen their barricade: with the World Social Forum, blocking the road of the North American workers vanguard and its anti-imperialist, internationalist, working class program.

These currents were the ones who took the most militant representatives of the workers vanguard of Brazil, of Argentina, of Peru, of Latin America, to the meeting of that traitors’ forum in Porto Allegre, to try to subjugate them to their reformist policy of class collaboration.

  • Down with the World Social Forum of Lula, Chávez, Fidel Castro, of the AFL-CIO, all agents of imperialism and traitors to the Latin American and world revolution!
  • No subordination of the militant workers and their class struggle organizations to the World Social Forum!

To the militant workers organizations of Latin America and the world: Solidarity with the Million Workers March Movement and its mobilizations of March 19th & May 1st
We revolutionary internationalists who have signed this declaration enthusiastically welcome and join our forces with the Movement of the Million Workers, and its two working class, anti-imperialist and internationalist calls of the March 19th and May 1s.

We call on our comrades in the different groups which are members of the Liaison Committee for an International Conference of Principled Trotskyists and revolutionary internationalist workers organizations, to add their support and signature, and build together a great internationalist campaign.

We call on all the militant workers organizations of the countries in which we are active, and in the rest of the world, to play their part on the barricade that has been built by our class brothers and sisters of the United States. We call on the workers of the Subte [underground railway of Buenos Aires] and their delegates who are within reach of victory in their strike against the employer’s association, the union bureaucracy and the government of the imperialist lackey Kirchner; the miners of Turbio River, the piquetero movement, and the internal commissions, bodies of delegates, and militant workers organizations of Argentina; to the worker and youth vanguard that in Brazil which has built CONLUTAS to confront the union bureaucracy of the CUT that supports Lula; the militant working class organizations of Chile, of Peru, of Bolivia, and of New Zealand, all to adhere to the declaration of the Movement of the March of the Million Workers and to its two calls to action.

The barricade of North American workers vanguard is also our barricade in the fight for the revolutionary students of the Technological University of Oruro (UTO) in Bolivia, and those of the National University of the Comahue (UNCo) in Argentina, that rose in struggle for a University in the service of the workers and the people; it is the same barricade for all the militant anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist youth of Latin America and the world. We call on all of them to unite with the revolutionary students Zengakuren of Japan, who have adhered to and support the declaration and the calls to action of the Million Workers March Movement.

We call on the militant workers organizations and the anti-imperialist youth to take the struggle into their own hands so that March 19 becomes a day of anti-imperialist mobilization and class struggle everywhere in the world for the defeat of the imperialistic troops in Iraq, and support for the heroic Iraqi masses. We fight against the rotten politics of the World Social Forum which tries to neutralize the mobilizations and to remove their proletarian class character and substitute a reformist and pacific politics. The revolutionary organizations that have signed this call, undertake to fight inside all united front actions on March 19th to raise our class struggle program for the military defeat of the imperialist troops in Iraq, and for the victory of the indomitable resistance of the Iraqi masses.

We call on the militant workers organizations to reconquer the heroic tradition of proletarian internationalism of the world working class, which was suppressed by social democracy and stalinism: let us reclaim, alongside the North American workers, May 1st [May Day] 2005 as a day of world proletarian struggle, with strikes and mobilizations coordinated in every country! This is what is most urgently needed by our Iraqi brothers and sisters!

This is what we urgently need, the workers, and the exploited and oppressed peoples of the world! This is what we need to free from the jails the tens of thousands of worker and anti-imperialist fighters who the bourgeois imperialist regimes and governments keep as hostages, in Guantánamo, in Turkey, in Bolivia, in Argentina, etc.!

We call on workers everywhere to take the declaration and the two calls to action as motions to be discussed and voted on in the militant workers organizations of Latin America, of Europe, of Asia, of the world. For our part, we commit ourselves, on the honor of revolutionary internationalists, to build this struggle and to take these motions to the heart of the workers organizations and all the struggles of the exploited and oppressed in the countries where we are active.

Signed by FTI-CI (Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia), FT-PV (Brazil), CWG (NZ)

From Class Struggle 59 January-February 2005 

Written by raved

January 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Bread and Circuses: The US ‘show’ elections

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Most workers in the US vote for one or other of the bosses’ parties. Why when the whole electoral machine is corrupted by bosses’ money and fraudulent practices should we take it seriously? Even if workers are allowed to vote what do we gain? After all an election, as Lenin said, is the right to vote every few years for our oppressors? So what’s the point? There is a point, but only if revolutionaries use the elections as a platform to raise their revolutionary program! Otherwise elections are no more than ‘bread and circuses’.

Bush exploits fear

The fact is that many workers are deluded into believing that the US is the great benefactor of the world, the defender of democracy and human rights. The bosses’ media has scared them into voting for Bush to defend their country from the threat of ‘terrorism’. The ‘alternative’ media that produces critical views of the Bush administration and its economic interests, like Fahrenheit 9-11, Outfoxed and The Corporation, still reach only a minority audience.

Many of these workers are the better paid ‘labour aristocracy’ who have benefited from decades of US domination of the world market. There are also lower paid migrant workers who put their hopes in a strong US to protect their jobs. The US economic crisis is cutting the wages and conditions of well paid as well as poorly paid workers to restore the bosses’ profits. The bosses’ shift the responsibility for the crisis by inciting workers to blame migrants or workers in other countries for stealing their jobs. This economic insecurity is manipulated by the bosses into support for aggressive US policies against other countries such as Iraq. In this way the ‘war in terror’ becomes a test of the patriotism of US workers in support of the US ruling class to dominate the world economy.

We say to these workers that Bush is not defending your interests. Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Bush is making you pay for these wars with your jobs, your wages, your rights and the lives of your children, draft or no draft. The ‘terrorists’ in Iraq or Colombia are largely the poor and oppressed people of those countries invaded and plundered by US imperialism over generations who are now fighting back with whatever means available.

Bush is using the ‘war on terror’ to fight a never-ending terrorist war against the poor workers and peasants of this world to re-colonise their countries to ‘smash and grab’ the oil, gas, and other vital resources. Now he is making war against the poor inside the USA. Voting for Bush will bring more ‘terror’ at home not less. Bush’s ‘homeland security’ will take away all your union and civil rights, including your right to vote for anybody but Republican. Siding with Bush puts you offside with the vast majority of the poor workers and farmers of the world!

Bush lite

But will voting for Kerry make a difference? The democratic party presents itself as a more liberal bosses’ party. Yet it drew on racist southern democratic support for years. Under Clinton the Democrats introduced policies of workfare taking away the welfare rights of millions. It is supported by the main union organisation the AFL-CIO –the same organisation that supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq and of Haiti.

Kerry claims he does not endorse the extreme militarism of the New American Century faction of the US ruling class which calls for the US to invade any country where it has a vital interest. ( But this policy was already the hallmark of US foreign policy in the 19th century and continued in the 20th century under Democrat leaders like Roosevelt and Kennedy. Kerry pretends that the US can continue to rule the world without ‘going it alone’ and splitting with the other major powers. He may not have invaded Iraq knowing that Saddam did not have WMDs or connections to al Queda. But like the last Democrat president, Clinton, he would have bombed Iraq and Kosovo to enforce UN resolutions.

Leftists for Kerry

Many prominent ‘left’ intellectuals are supporting a Kerry vote as the only way to get rid of Bush. Some, like Noam Chomsky, say that this is necessary in the ‘swing’ states were a few hundred votes may make the difference. Yet it seems that it will be the lawyers hired by the Democrats that make the difference, not the followers of Chomsky et al.

The leftists for Kerry use a ‘lesser evil’ argument that says that US imperialism can be more humane and democratic under Kerry. It is a view echoed by prominent ‘Eurocommunists’ like Tony Negri who says that Bush’s leadership is a retreat from a multilateral world Empire back to a unilateral US imperialism. Others, like former right-winger Chalmers Johnson in his book the ‘Sorrows of Empire’, say that the rise of US militarism is because the Pentagon now controls the state.

Return to ‘ultra imperialism’?

All of these ‘lesser evil’ arguments promote the belief that the US can conduct itself without going to war to defend its leading role in the world economy. This is a return to Kautsky’s theory of ‘ultra-imperialism’ at the time of WW 1. Kautsky claimed that the big corporations and big banks no longer had an interest in fighting wars since their assets were now distributed across many countries and would be damaged by war. Today, with the rise of the global economy, the power of finance capital and trans-nationals spanning the world market, these Kautskyites claim that national rivalries are even more anachronistic.

What these apologists for the big corporations overlook is the fact that the current crisis of world capitalism does not allow the US and its imperialist rivals the luxury of collaborating peacefully. They are each driven to compete to win larger shares of trade and control of vital resources at each other’s expense. Whatever the minor policy differences between Bush and Kerry these will quickly disappear. Under the impact of the deepening economic crisis it is impossible for US imperialism to collaborate with its main rivals in the scramble for scarce resources such as oil and gas.

Therefore we say to all those who call for a vote for Kerry to get rid of Bush, that this is promoting the illusion that Kerry will be better for workers than Bush. We say that this election is a ‘show’ election where the victor will be whoever has the biggest budget, the dirtiest tricks, and the power to delude the masses that they can be secure from the threat of ‘terrorism’. Voting for Kerry will only contribute to these illusions and delusions, rather than challenging workers to organise against the interests of an imperialist ruling class that hides behind the ‘bread and circus’ elections. A good example of this is the AFL-CIO sabotage of the recent Million Man March as a ‘diversion’ from the Kerry election campaign.

Million (50,000) Man March

According to Martin Schreader, editor of Appeal to Reason:: “On October 17, the Million Worker March was held in Washington, DC. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the main dockworkers’ union on the west coast, initiated the event, and organised it with the assistance of local unions and leftwing organisations across the country. The march put forward a series of concrete demands ranging from universal healthcare and abolition of restrictive anti-labour laws to democratic control of the media and the economy.

The immediate goal of the MWM, according to organisers, was to “gauge where workers are” – to see how many workers were open to a radical-democratic and socialist platform. The ultimate goal would have been to use the march as the basis for beginning to build a new political party of working people.” (Weekly Worker 549 Thursday October 21 2004).

But this rally was sabotaged by the AFL-CIO now so attached to the Democratic Party that not only did it refuse to allow its member unions to participate in a march against the administration in Washington, but it collaborated with the Homeland Security authorities to have busloads of workers stopped and questioned on the way to the rally. Many buses were turned around and only 50,000 rallied to the march. This open betrayal can only add fuel to the rallying call for independent unions and a mass Workers’ Party.

Nader is a left Democrat

Against the open collaboration of left intellectuals and the labour bureaucrats of the AFL-CIO with the Democrats, several small left reformist parties are putting up their own candidates. Do these parties offer an alternative for the workers’ vote? Nader, the Greens, the Socialist Workers Party, Workers World Party, among others, stand on platforms opposing both Republicans and Democrats.

Nader would replace the US ‘coalition’ troops in Iraq with UN troops. He demands more state spending on education, welfare etc. But his real position is to provoke the Democrats to offer a more left alternative to the Republicans. His agenda is a return to some ideal concept of a democratic, humane, welfarist, but still social-imperialist, USA. That is, his reforms for US workers would be paid out of the super-profits extracted by US imperialism in its colonies and semi-colonies. This is a left bosses’ program not very different from the Labour parties and Social Democrat parties in Europe, where sometimes revolutionaries give critical support to get these parties elected and exposed as anti-worker. Does Nader quality for critical support? No way!

The difference between Nader and social democracy is that Nader has no backing in the organised working class which sees in him a party that represents its interests. Therefore to call for a critical vote for Nader would be to sow illusions in the possibility of the Democrats reforming themselves into a social democratic alternative to the Republicans. For the same reasons that workers should not vote for Kerry, they should not vote for Nader or the Greens who also promote reformist illusions about ‘greening’ and ‘humanising’ capitalism. Nevertheless, this has not stopped many small so-called Trotskyist groups from endorsing Nader-Camejo, e.g. International Socialist Organisation (ex-Cliffite-or SWP (UK) and SWO (NZ); Socialist Alternative (CWI or Socialist Party (UK) Left Party/Solidarity etc.

Socialist alternatives?

A number of socialist groups today see the US under any fraction of the ruling class –left, right or center –as incapable of delivering real democracy. Martin Schreader of the Debs faction in the Socialist Party sees the victory of Bush in 2000 as marking the end of the 2nd Republic (which began with the victory of the northern bourgeoisie against the southern slaveowners in the civil war of the 1860s). Similarly, a leader of the Communist Party of Great Britain says that because the elections are rigged by those with wealth and power, the US needs a ‘third’ democratic revolution. The CPGB would join with Schreader in voting for the Socialist Party (US) candidates.

For all of these groups this proposed democratic revolution will require the mobilisation of the working masses to replace those with wealth and power with a genuinely democratic republic. Their programs are therefore limited to immediate and democratic demands for civil rights, union rights and economic welfare such as jobs, health, education, welfare rights, women’s and migrants rights, repeal of homeland security, opposition to the war on Iraq war etc.

Good as far as they go, but not nearly far enough! All of these demands are raised on the premise that workers can build an electoral majority and return a workers’ party to Congress and the White House to complete the national revolution.

But standing candidates on such reformist programs creates a trap for workers because it reinforces the illusion that a parliamentary majority can make capitalism democratic, when every historical example of such programs have been defeated by reactionary anti-democratic counter-revolutions, from Germany in 1919 to Chile in 1973. As we will see below the Bolsheviks avoided this trap only because they rejected the Menshevik theory that the workers led by progressive bourgeois intellectuals can force capitalism to deliver democratic demands and economic welfare.

Unlike most of the other US left parties which evolved out of Stalinism or social democracy, the Socialist Workers Party (US) is standing candidates on this Menshevik policy as a result of consciously rejecting the Leninist/Trotskyist ideological weapon used to destroy the argument of the Mensheviks in 1917 –the concept of ‘permanent revolution’.

Socialist Workers Party and Cuban ‘socialism’

The SWP candidates take a position very similar to others on the socialist left – calling for workers to complete the bourgeois revolution in the US. But their program is more credible to militant workers because of their past association with Trotsky. The SWP are the party strong influenced by Trotsky when he was in exile in Mexico in the 1930’s. Today, having broken with Trotskyism the SWP has the dubious distinction of holding up the Cuban revolution as a model of how the democratic revolution can be completed in the US.

Castro defeated the colonial power (US) and its landowning agents (Bastista etc) and put revolutionary nationalist intellectuals into power in 1959. This was a democratic national revolution in which the workers and peasants backed a left bourgeois leadership. It went beyond a national revolution only when the counter-revolution of the US and its local agents forced Castro to expropriate capitalist property. The SWP does not recognise that Castro is part of a Stalinist bureaucracy that controls the economy, which has to be removed by a ‘political revolution’ to open the road to socialism.

According to the SWP, the Cuban revolution proves that it is possible for petty bourgeois intellectuals to complete the stage of a national revolution, and then go on to make a socialist revolution. Instead of recognising that Cuba is a bureaucratic workers state where the Castroite leadership must be overthrown, the SWP elevates the Castroites to the role of the vanguard of the Menshevik two-stage transition to socialism.

Translated to the US election today, the SWP presidential candidates, like the other left reformist candidates, call for the first stage of this transition, the ‘democratic dictatorship’ of the workers and farmers i.e. a radical democratic bourgeois republic. The second, socialist, stage will only become possible when further conditions are present, in particular, mass support for the expropriation of capitalist property.

But to suggest that it will be possible for US workers to complete the bourgeois revolution short of socialism is to reject the revolutionary program of Lenin and Trotsky that made the Russian revolution possible. In taking this position the SWP rejects Trotsky’s program of Permanent Revolution and substitutes the Menshevik program of 1917 and of the Cuban revolution.

Permanent Revolution

Revolutionaries cannot call for workers to vote for any of the reformists left candidates because they delude workers into thinking that a mass workers movement can make capitalist democracy work. This was a theory rejected by Lenin in his April Theses of 1917. Until that time he and the rest of the Bolsheviks thought that Russia was not ripe for socialist revolution. Russia needed a bourgeois revolution to prepare the conditions for a socialist revolution. But the Russian bourgeoisie were too weak to overthrow the Tsar. It would be necessary for the workers and the peasantry to join forces to do what the bourgeoisie could not do. This was called the ‘democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry’.

But it became increasingly obvious that to prevent the return of the Tsarist regime workers and peasants would have to take power from the bourgeoisie who would rather ally with Tsarism and imperialism than allow workers to take power. And once workers took power, what would be the point of limiting their program to the bourgeois constitution in defence of private property. After Lenin returned to Russia, he and Trotsky joined forces to win over the Bolsheviks to their position of ‘permanent’ or ‘uninterrupted’ revolution.

It proved to be the case that only the Bolsheviks could muster the workers, peasants and soldiers to defeat the Tsar, the Russian bourgeoisie and the imperialist forces. In doing this they created a workers state, expropriated capitalist property and defended the revolution from counter-revolution. In Germany, where a Bolshevik party did not exist, the revolution failed to break from the bourgeoisie and was disarmed by the reformists’ promise of a ‘democratic’ republic. The new Weimar republic contained the revolutionary upturn of the masses and paved the way for the rise of fascism in Germany to smash the working class.

A Trotskyist program for the US election

Working class history written in blood reveals why revolutionaries do not give political support to any bourgeois parties but must call instead for the independent political organisation of the workers. The only program that revolutionaries can raise in the US elections is a revolutionary program. By definition such a program cannot be realised by completing the democratic revolution. On the contrary, the democratic revolution can only be completed as part of a socialist revolution.

Therefore an electoral program must be a transitional program that includes not only the most basic immediate and democratic demands but also socialist demands such as the formation of independent working class organisations like parties, councils and militias, capable of seizing power and creating a workers’ and small farmers’ state.

For the formation of a mass Workers’ or Labour Party!

For rank and file control of the unions independent of the state!

For a 30 hour working week on a living wage to combat unemployment!

For a program of public works, state-funded health, education and housing, all paid for by taxes on the rich!

For civil rights and citizenship rights for all minorities and migrants!

For the nationalisation of all capitalist property, including the banks, without compensation and under workers control!

A mass workers party based upon independent unions raising such demands will quickly come up against the reactionary state forces and propel workers to form soviets, militias, and national organs of workers power preparatory to the seizure of state power and the creation of a Workers and small farmers State as part of a federation of socialist republics of the Americas!

From Class Struggle 58 October-November 2004

Written by raved

January 8, 2010 at 3:50 pm


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Last month, a few days before the Donnelly incident in Wellington, a member of the Anti Imperialist Coalition was subjected to a racist attack outside a meeting of the Seafarers’ Union. The seafarer shouted racist comments about Arabs and Iraqis before punching the AIC member. He had been angered by two leaflets which AIC members were distributing at the meeting (see below). One of the leaflets called for solidarity between New Zealand workers and the US Longshoremen being attacked by Bush, and the other advertised an upcoming anti-war march. The AIC has asked the Seafarers Union to show its opposition to racism and war by censuring the man who made the attack, and by getting involved in the growing anti-war movement in Auckland.
From Class Struggle 47 October/November 2002

AIC Leaflet
Support US workers attacked by Bush’s War of Terror
President Bush has decided that the West Coast ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) port workers struggle to renew their industrial contract is a threat to US internal security. The port employers locked out the longshoremen, and Bush threatened to call out the National Guard. Now he has imposed the Taft-Hartley Act to force the ports open for 80 days. Bush is using the war on terror to target the enemies of the US ruling class at home as well as internationally. This proves that the war on terror is a class war and that only the working class can stop war. Our first task is to build international solidarity with the locked out workers and put union bans on scab ships.

What’s behind the current attack on the ILWU?
The ILWU, representing 10,500 dockworkers at 29 major Pacific ports, is embroiled in a bitter contract dispute with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing the shipping lines. The longshore workers’ contract expired July 1 and the ports have been operating on the basis of day-to-day contract extensions ever since. The key sticking point involves management demands for concessions that would allow for the introduction of new technology.

Wages and benefits are not the issue in these negotiations. The hourly rate for longshore workers ranges from $27.68 to $33.48-about the same as a plumber or electrician. What they would like, however, is to keep certain workers out of the union, the vessel planners who tell the cranes where to put every shipping container; clerical workers who use computers to help track container movement, and drivers who haul containers in and out of the ports.

Workers in these jobs have already joined the ILWU, or tried to, attracted by its good wages. The union wants to include them to replace the potential loss of jobs among the clerks who track cargo manually. Negotiators for the PMA have said no. The union looks at this as an issue of survival.

The union has already made concessions to the employers to accept new technology that would see around 30% of the clerks lose their jobs. But that is not enough for PMA that also wants to claw back hard-won health conditions and freeze pensions.

According to a ILWU leader Steve Stallone, the US Labor Department told the union early on that unless it meets the employers conditions the Bush administration would invoke the seldom used Taft-Hartley Act that can delay any strike by 80 days, use the Railway Labor Act to force the union to bargain port-by-port and bring in the army or navy to run the ports. The government has threatened the union with a “PATCO-type scenario,” referring to President Reagan’s mass firing of striking air traffic controllers in 1981. This week after 10 days of the lockout, Bush delivered on the first part of his promise invoked the Taft-Hartley Act and forced the ports open for 80 days.

Bush is backed by big business to smash unions
Why has a labour dispute been dragged into Bush’s ‘war on terrorism’? Bush is seizing the post September 11 clampdown on democratic rights in the US to attack the longstanding rights of unions. Both the Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfield have told the union that strikes are a threat to ‘national security’ at a time when the extreme right wing Bush Administration considers that the US is at war.

Bush’s right wing agenda is to use the war on terrorism to try to make US workers pay for the crisis of the US economy. Bush is supported by the WCWC, (West Coast Waterfront Coalition) made up of big businesses such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Ikea, Nike, Target and The Gap. The WCWC wants to prevent any strike action that would affect the $300 billion worth of goods that flow through the Pacific ports each year.

The Los Angeles Times reported a June 5 memo to Bush from the WCWC whose members “met with key Bush Administration Officials to convey the message that there is a need both to obtain labour concessions at the West Coast ports that will allow the application of technology and to avoid labour disruptions on the West Coast this summer that could stall a fragile economy.”

Bush is following a precedent set already with federal employees. He used the pretext of the war on terrorism to strip 170,000 federal employees being transferred to the newly formed Department of Homeland Security of their rights as public service employees and union representation.

Rank and File solidarity undermined by officials
What has been the response of organised labour to Bush’s threats to smash the ILWU? The rank and file Longshoremen have responded with militant actions up and down the west coast. There has been huge support from unions and workers all over the world. In NZ, Seafarers and Watersiders Union officials have visited the lockout ports, and taken resolutions to ‘black’ any ships loaded by scab labour or the military.

However, the response of the official leadership of the ILWU and the AFL-CIO (main US national labour organisation) to the Bush administration’s threats has been to appeal to the Democrats in Congress to put pressure on Bush and to claim that the ILWU is fully supportive of his patriotic war on terrorism.

The Democrat representatives hope that they can get Bush to back down by promising that the union will accept the bosses’ terms, in particular the job losses following the introduction of new technology. This has been the record of the ILWU leadership over the last few decades as thousands of jobs have been sacrificed with hardly a fight. In Seattle of 2,400 workers in 1963 there are only 550 left today. The union officials admit that today workers handle 10 times the cargo with one-twentieth the workforce.

The rank and file of the ILWU have to break from their officials to win this fight. If workers allow patriotism to replace working class solidarity they will lose. The union is saying “Fight terrorism, not workers”. The official union line is that the workers are much more patriotic than the bosses who are importing cheap Asian goods at the expense of American jobs. So they call for worker boycotts of foreign made goods.

But this attempt to prove the workers’ loyalty to the US prevents any real working class solidarity with workers inside or outside the US. It allows Bush to shift the blame for the state of the US economy off the bosses onto the longshore workers.

By supporting the US imperialist policies of a preemptive strike against Afghanistan, Iraq or any country designated ‘terrorist’ by the Bush administration, the ILWU workers unite with the class enemy, at a time when Bush is using the ILWU dispute to unleash his union-busting domestic drive for the same reason that he is promoting the war on terrorism abroad.

US imperialism is crisis-ridden and can only be revived by massive military spending on war, and the driving down of labour conditions at home. The ‘permanent’ war against US enemies abroad and the domestic war against its own working class are one and the same. The US ruling class must resort to the super-exploitation and oppression of workers at home and abroad to survive.

What should NZ workers do?
The ILWU is a strong union with a history of struggle. It opposed the Vietnam War. It closed down Long Beach and San Francisco ports to scab ships during the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) dispute in 1998. New Zealand workers have a clear duty to take solidarity action in support of the West Coast port workers. Multinationals like Carter Holt Harvey have tried to bust the NZ Waterside Workers Union and replace workers with new technology. Only by uniting internationally can workers become strong enough to take on the global corporations that dominate the world economy and win the fight against imperialist oppression and war.

The NZ Terrorism Suppression Bill passed on October 10 is modeled on US bills like the Patriot Bill introduced after September 11. It has provisions that will allow the state to designate industrial action a threat to national security. This includes solidarity action taken by NZ workers in support of locked-out wharfies in the US. We can petition the government to respect our rights as workers, and oppose Bush’s attack on Iraq, but it will be the ability of organised workers to go on strike that wins these rights and defends Iraq from further attacks.

The recent court acquittal of the killer of Christine Clarke shows that workers can place no reliance on the protection of the government and the police to win their struggles. Quite the reverse. As NZ’s history of militant struggle proves, state forces were used to smash strikes in 1913, 1951 and every other major dispute. Mass pickets are what is needed, supported by international action to stop the state from using scab workers or the military as strike breakers.

Solidarity with the locked out US workers!
For a union ban on scab US cargo!
Rally on October 26! 12 noon QE2 Square
Stop the Attack on Iraq

Anti-imperialist Coalition meets Weds 7-30 pm Trades Hall 147 Grt North Rd Grey Lynn
025 280 0080 email website

Solidarity with the ILWU workers!

“This union condemns the actions of the employers to lock out the West Coast US Longshoreworkers. We also condemn the Government use of the Taft-Hartley Act to force unionists back to work and the threat of troops and scabs to do the work of unionised workers.

We defend the right of unions to take industrial action in pursuit of their aims and objectives, including the right to strike and picket. We defend the right of workers including NZ/Aotearoa to take strike action in solidarity with workers in other countries.

We call upon the unions affiliated to the NZCTU to act in solidarity with the ILWU and to take industrial action to ban any vessel that is worked by scab or military labour in the US from docking or being unloaded in NZ.”

Messages of solidarity and material aid can be sent to the ULWU workers at:

Letter on Workers’ Party NZ.

Dear Comrade Editor,

On September 11 2002, the Workers’ Party of NZ walked out of the Auckland Anti-Imperialist Coalition. The WPNZ had helped initiate the AIC in September 2001 and had fully supported it up until the 2002 election campaign maintaining a presence right up until their walkout.

Since the WPNZ claims to serve the working class, surely it owes the AIC an explanation in its own paper the ‘Spark’ as to why it split from the AIC. The ‘Spark’ has been completely silent about the WPNZ’s desertion from the only Auckland militant anti-war united front.

The ‘Spark’, in an article written by Phil Ferguson of ‘Revolution Group’, has criticised the Socialist Workers’ Organisation for not joining the AIC, but now the ‘Spark’ group have left AIC themselves without an explanation to even its own readers. What has changed? Does the WPNZ purport to set an example to the working class on the correct way to operate in united fronts, or do they think that working class organisations should be guided by expediency alone in these matters.

The leader of the ‘Spark’ group had plenty to say on the AIC e-loop and the ‘anti-war, anti-cap”Yahoo group and no doubt these were mainly that AIC members were “mentally disturbed”. She also tried to do a political character assassination on an AIC member who had been assaulted by a rightwing member of the Auckland Seafarers Union two days before for disagreeing with this guy over Iraq.

In writing she made out that this thug was a good unionist! Despite the fact an AIC member heard him say that Iraq should have the “shit bombed out of it”, and that he also slandered a united front organisation, the AIC, of which the WPNZ was then a part, as supporters of Bin Laden.

I challenge the ‘Spark’ editor to publish her version of why WPNZ split after one year of intensive activity in AIC. On what issue of principle? I bet she will not and cannot say. I also challenge the ‘Revolution Group’ of Christchurch to publicly defend their ‘Spark’ splitter mates since “Revolution” has seen fit to intervene in this debate.

In its most recent edition (Spark, 15 October 2002) WPNZ writes: “the Task is to build an ‘anti-imperialist movement” and “anti-imperialism is the basis for unity with genuine forces for change” (p.3). This, one month after walking out of an avowedly and actively anti-imperialist organisation without making any public criticism of that organisation.

Signed BR

Written by raved

June 29, 2008 at 1:48 pm