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

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Stop Israel’s fascist attack on the Palestinian People!

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Leninist Trotskyist Fraction Statement

From the 28 of June, the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel, has begun a new military offensive against the Palestinian workers and people. With the pretext of “freeing” an Israeli soldier who was captured by one of the Palestinian militias, it has surrounded and invaded the Gaza Strip –a territory of 400 square kilometers with a population of one-and-a-half million people –with tanks, ships, artillery and troops. It has launched a massive artillery bombardment against the Palestinian people, already killing 54 of them – including 9 children – by the end of June. With this offensive, imperialism and its Zionist policeman aims a new counter-revolutionary blow at the Palestinian and Middle Eastern masses, and in particular at the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses who are fighting a war of resistance against the US army and who every day send back to the US more dead soldiers in body bags. We reproduce in a slightly abridged version a statement of the FLT.

The situation of the oppressed people of is already a catastrophe and getting worse: the electrical power stations and the bridges were destroyed and all access roads closed. With a temperatures above 40°, the people do not have water, light, food, medicines, fuel, etc. One out of three new-born children dies for lack of basic medicines. Without power the hospitals cannot perform operations or maintain blood supplies or medicines, etc.

The vast majority of Palestinian workers are unemployed. The Zionist State in the last months cut from 88,000 to 11,000 the ‘work permits’ that allow Palestinian workers to be exploited in Israeli and imperialist factories in occupied Palestine. Thousands of workers risk their life every day leaving Gaza and the Transjordan without permits to work for food to feed their children. But today no worker can leave to work.

The Zionist army also entered Ramallah, in the Transjordan, bombing dependencies and detaining almost 100 civil employees of the “Palestinian government” –the so-called ‘Palestinian National Authority’ –accusing them of being ‘criminals’, ‘terrorists’, etc.

This is the true face of the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel, artificially created in 1948 by means of the military occupation of the territory of the nation of Palestine, the expulsion of its inhabitants, their systematic extermination and displacement on the assumption of an historic ‘Biblical right’ , and maintained since then by Anglo-Yankee imperialism as its police force to keep the Palestinian and Middle Eastern Masses subservient to the imperialistic powers and their demand for oil!

The new fascist offensive aims to smash all resistance and impose an apartheid state of Palestine

The Palestinian masses, with its nation under occupation, condemned to live as prisoners in their own land, are prisoners in “ghettos” and concentration camps that are no better than the Warsaw ghetto of the Nazis. This new military offensive is the continuation of the defeat of the huge revolution that the Palestinian people began in September 2000. It aims to complete that defeat, with the reimposition of a fascist barbarism by the Zionist invaders of the nation they have occupied for more than half a century.

At the same time, it is the response of US and British imperialism to the refusal of the Palestinian resistance to accept defeat of their revolution. Not one day has passed since 2002 when there has not been demonstrations against the apartheid wall in Transjordan, against the confinement of the people in ‘Bantustans’ and concentration camps surrounded by the Zionist army and the fascist colonies, against the recurrent massacres and murders of the Zionist army, struggles to liberate more than 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners in the Zionist jails, including over 500 women and children.

If the military offensive of the army of Olmert and Bush is victorious, then immediately we will see the imposition of the ‘Road Map’ to complete the formation of a “Palestinian state”, separated from an Israeli state, and consisting of small strips of barren, over-populated territory, without infrastructure and water, isolated from one another, behind walls like Transjordan, and surrounded by the Israeli army and the fascist colonies.

If they succeed in this offensive, imperialism and its Zionist agent will be more confident of being able to finally smash the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses, of advancing its plans to attack Iran, and also to intensify its attacks against the workers of the United States and the European imperialist powers.

There is no middle road when facing the life and death struggle of the Palestinian people who have been fighting to throw out the Zionist occupants of their land more than half a century: one is unconditionally with the Palestinian people, or one is in the trench of the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel, and the imperialists Bush, Chirac, the UN and the other bandits.

Cynically, the world bourgeois media worries about the fate of the Israeli soldier taken prisoner, while it couldn’t care less about the deaths and the suffering inflicted on the millions of oppressed Palestinians that try to defend their land from the occupyers. As revolutionary Trotskyists we defend the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to defend themselves and to fight against the Israeli occupying troops with any means at their disposal. The right to fight to defeat the Zionist invader and to destroy the Zionist state, is an inalienable democratic-revolutionary right of the Palestinian people.

The Palestine bourgeoisie of Al Fatah and Hamas: prison guards of the enslaved Palestinian people

At the same time, we say very clearly that the long suffering of the Palestinian people will only end with the destruction from the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel. This will not be won under the leadership of the Palestinian bourgeoisie. No, on the contrary, it will be necessary for the working class and the exploited people to break all ties to the national bourgeoisie.

The Palestine bourgeoisie betrayed the historic struggle of thePalestinian people for its national liberation and it have become the prison guards of its own people, first by making the Oslo agreement and today by supporting the ‘Road Map’ that implements the Oslo Agreement.

In 1993, by signing the Oslo agreements the PLO and Al Fatah, headed then by Yasser Arafat, openly renounced the struggle for the destruction of the State of Israel, recognizing its ‘right to exist’, and accepting the plan to create the fiction of a ‘Palestinian state’ coexisting by its side. Those agreements introduced the farce of the “Palestinian territories” under the so-called government of the Palastinian National Authority and its police, as prison guards of their own people as slaves confined to ghettos and concentrations camps.

It was against that new system of control that the masses revolted in September of 2000, starting the heroic Palestine revolution. The oppressed workers rose up, took the police stations from the ‘Palestinian National Authority’, disarmed it and forming their own workers and peasants militias in the towns and camps. Breaking from their own bourgeois police guard and arming themselves, the Palestinian workers and peasants immediate raised to a higher level, the struggle for national liberation, and opened the road to the the destruction of the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel.

To smash that revolutionary upsurge, the the Zionist state sent in the army to disarm masses while at the same time protecting the bourgeois leadership of Palestine by locking up Yasser Arafat and his cabinet in Ramallah. By ensuring that Arafat survied the revolution, the Zionist state rearmed the Palestine bourgeoisie (channelling Billions of “international aid” through international companies such as the one that supplies the cement for the wall around Transjordan) to control its own people behind the apartheid Wall. The brigades of Al Aqsa and Al Fatah, and then the brigades of Ezzedine Al Kassam of Hamas, at once began to repress the workers and peasants militias proving that they were in fact the new “Palestine” police whose task was to suppress the revolutionary masses.

Hamas succeeds Al Fatah as the jailhouse guards

Because it openly attacked the Palelstinian people the bourgeois leadership of Al Fatah was widely discredited in the eyes of the masses. This is why another bourgeois fraction, represented by Hamas (the fraction of the commercial bourgeoisie, related to the bourgeoisie of the Bazaar of Iran) replaced Al Fatah as the leadership of the “Palestinian Territories’. It was this fraction represented by Hamas, that won the legislative elections last February, and formed the new government chosing the Prime Minister and cabinet, while Al Fatah is now represented only by the Presdident Abu Mazen.

Hamas demagogically won the elections with its policy of the destruction of the State of Israel, manipulating therefore the feeling and the aspirations of the vast majority of the Palestinian people. But as soon as it became the Government, Hamas made a ‘truce’ with the Israeli state for 10 years. That is, it guaranteed the existence and survival of Isael by undertaking the task of policing its own people. This proves yet again, that the liberation of the Palestinian people can only be won by the working class leading the poor peasantry, and destroying the Zionist-Facist state of Israel.

Hamas has already renounced the historical fight for the destruction of the State of Israel. But it has tried to convince the Israeli state that the best way to control the Palestinian people that the it still fights for the destruction of the State of Israel. With those arguments, Hamas tried to get the Zionist state to release the “international aid” and withheld taxes to the Palestinian government.

But the Zionist bourgeoisie – backed by US imperialism – rejected this deal with Hamas. They want to see all the fractions of the Palestine bourgeoisie on their knees before Israel. So while the prison guards fight among themselves, the Zionist state sends in its military forces to make clear who commands the jail.

Only the workers of the whole Middle East can destroy the state of Israel and imperialism

The undefeated Palestinian people have suffererd more than half a century of massacres and betrayals, because the leaders of the national liberation struggle are the national bourgeoisie. The Palestine bourgeoisie, like all national bourgeoisies, are the junior partners of imperialism. They would prefer to go to prison like the Hamas leadership today, and that its people got killed, than arm the masses.. It knows that if the Palestinian people were armed not only would they destroy the state of Israel, but as already happened in 2000, they would destroy the national bourgeoisies power and private property. Therefore, it hides the weapons so that the masses cannot get them, and forces them to face the murderous attacks of the fifth biggest army in the world, armed to the teeth by imperialism, with empty hands.

The only then way then, that the Palestinian masses can face the Zionist military offensive, is to break all political subordination to its own bourgeoisie, and take the leadership of the national liberation struggle into its own handes. It must form workers and peasants militias and arm the Palestinian people and fight for the destruction of the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel. Otherwise the blood of its martyrs will again be used by the Palestinian bourgeoisie as a currency in its negotiations with imperialism and the Zionist state.

In that way, the masses of occupied Palestine can be united in struggle with the millions of Palestinians expelled from their land by Zionism and who now live Lebanon and Jordan. The heroic masses that resist in Gaza and Transjordan, have a powerful rearguard in the millions of Palestinian workers and who live in the south of where their militia forced the Israeli army to retreat in June 2000 in first engagement of the coming Palestinian revolution! There are many battalions able to confront the Israeli army on the East Bank of the Jordán River, in Jordan, where almost half the population is Palestinian.

Break with the bourgeoisie of Al Fatah, Hamas, Hizbollah, etc., so that the Palestinian masses can be armed to defeat the Zionist offensive and open the road to the destruction of the State of Israel. Break with Hizbollah so that the Palestinian masses in Lebanon can engage the Zionist state with their armed forces. Break with the Jordanian bourgeoisie – whose monarchy is responsible for terrible massacres against the Palestinian people, to allow the Palestinian masses of Jordan to split the Jordanian army and unite with its brothers and sisters in occupied Palestine. Build workers and peasants militias to take the leadership of the national liberation struggle, and retake the road of the revolution of 2000 that leads to the victory over imperialism. For a workers and peasants revolution capable of destroying the state of Israel, and creating a secular, democratic and nonracist Palestinian State where the workers and of all religions can coexist peacefully!

Re-entering the road to revolution, the Palestinian working class can lead a united struggle in the Middle East to defeat the imperialist troops in Iraq, stop any attack on Iran, and win a new Vietnam war that buries in the sands of the desert both imperialism and its Zionist policeman.

Stop the ‘oil wars’ of the imperialists and their national bourgeois junior partners!

The national bourgeoisies of the Middle East states, “condemn” the new Zionist offensive, but do not move a finger to support the Palestinian people. This is because these bourgeoisies are the junior partners of imperialism in plundering the oil of the region and the superexploitation and oppression of their own workers. Such is the case with the Iranian bourgeoisie and French imperialism; the Iraqian bourgeoisie –Sunni and Shiite – and US and British imperialism. Those national bourgeois regimes –from North Africa, to Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, are exploiting and repressing hundreds of millions of poor workers and peasants who live in the most extreme poverty and misery, while under their feet are the greatest oil reserves in the world. They also get their share of the profits from the million of workers who move from country to country to work in oil wells living in squalid camps and guarded by the mercenaries of the oil companies.

The bloody occupation of Iraq, the warlike threats against Iran, and the Zionist offensive against the Palestinian people, are all part of the “oil wars” of the imperialist powers and the national bourgeoisies of the region. For that reason, the Egyptian bourgeoisie sent 2500 police to the border with Gaza to guarantee that no Palestinians can escape to Egyptian territory. The Syrian bourgeoisie, although equipped with artillery, allowed Israeli helicopters to fly over Damascus in a clear military threat, but did not more than verbally “repudiate” that action. The Iranian bourgeoisie, that constantly threatens a “mother of all battles” against the state of Israel and the imperialism, does nothing but request that the UN Security Council meets…that same den of imperialistic thieves that imposes sanctions against Iran for its nuclear development!

Only the working class can stop these “oil wars”, because it has no class interest that ties it to imperialism, only chains to break. The most urgent task is to unite the ranks of the working class of the whole Middle East, so it can use the most powerful “missile” of all against imperialism and the bourgeoisies agents: to attack its private property and its super profits with a generalised struggle to expropriate the imperialistic oil monopolies, and the nationalization without compensation and under working control of the oil and gas wealth in all the Arab nations, and the whole Middle East.

One world working class, one fight!

In order to be able to go in aid of its Palestinian brothers and sisters the workers of the Middle East must break all the chains to their own native bourgeoisies. The heroic Iraqian resistance must break with the Shiite and Suni bourgeosies to unite with the Palestinian masses in one fight against imperialism and the state of Israel. The Egyptian workers and exploited must break with their oppressive bourgeoisie to demolish the border that separates them from their Palestine brothers and sisters, and provide arms, food and medicines so that they can oppose the Israeli army. The workers and exploited people of Iran must break with their nation bourgeoisie and send arms, missiles etc to the Palestinian people. Defeat imperialism and expropriate its monopolies, destroy the State of Israel, overthrow the lackey bourgeois regimes, and create worker-peasant governments within a Federation of Workers and Peasant governments of the Middle East.

The fight to destroy Zionist-Fascist state of Israel is also task of working class of the imperialist powers that created Israel, finance it and supply it with arms. The proletariat of the US, Britain, France and other imperialist powers have the key to stop the Zionist offensive and to defeat imperialism in Iraq. Paralyse the imperialist war machine and the Zionist war machine by workers boycotts strikes, mobilizations and pickets. Stop all shipments of arms, equipment and provisions to the Zionist State and the occupying armies of Iraq. Provide the Palestinian masses and the Iraqi resistance with arms, food and medicines, so they can defeat the imperialists and the Zionists!

But to defeat imperialistic powers we have to defeat the labor bureaucracy, the labor aristocracy and the leaders of the World Social Forum that chains the workers and peasants to the popular front with the imperialists.The working class and the exploded ones of Latin America must take the lead in the defense of the Palestinian people. It’s long struggle for national liberation is the same fight as that of the workers and poor peasants of Latin America to remove the imperialist yoke.

But the World Social Forum leaders like Fidel Castro are demanding that the UN intervene to stop the Zionist offensive in Gaza and return to the ‘Road Map’! Kirchner, Lula, Chávez, Morales and Co., “condemn” the attack of the Zionist army, and plead for “peace”. At the same time they are preparing to sign at the Mercosur meeting on 20 and 21 July, a Free Trade Agreement with the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel, while the working class and the Palestinian people are killed and injured. Down with the FTA with Israel!

Therefore the first condition, for the workers and peasants of Latin America to support the struggle of our class brothers and sisters of Palestine, is to break with the bourgeoisies, their regimes and their governments, and the union bureaucracies, Castrioists, and fake Trotskyists, who are today part of the World Social Forum.
Emergency Call to the world working class

The Leninist Trotskyist Fraction (FLT) calls on the world working class to take up the revolutionary program of struggle for the liberation of the Palestinian people that we have advanced. Take to the streets to fight for the destruction of the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel, and for the defeat of imperialism and the victory of the heroic Iraqi resistance. Surround the US and Israeli embassies everywhere in the world; use stoppages, boycotts, pickets and general strikes to stop the shipment of arms to the Zionist state and the imperialist army in Iraq. Supply arms, equipment, food and medicines to the heroic peoples of towns Palestine and Iraqi that are fighting for their national liberation. The world working class, the only one that can defeat imperialism and its Zionist policeman, must fight side by side with its class brothers and sisters of Palestine, Iraq and the whole Middle East!

· Stop the genocidal attack of the the Israeli state and its army against the Palestinian workers people!

· Immediate and unconditional freedom for the more than 10,000 Palestinian fighters held in Israeli jails!

· Down with the “Road Map” of the imperialistic butchers, the Zionist state and the Arab bourgeoisies, that wants to create an apartheid Palestinian state!

· Paralyze the imperialist war machine and the Zionist war machine by workers boycotts strikes, mbilizations and pickets.

· Stop all shipments of arms, equipment and provisions to the Zionist State and the occupying armies of Iraq!

· Provide the Palestinian masses and the Iraqian resistance with arms, food and medicines, so they can defeat the imperialilsts and the Zionists!

· Workers and peasants militias and arms for all Palestinian people to take the leadership of the national war of liberation gainst the Zionist occupier!

· For the destruction of the Zionist-Fascist state of Israel!

· Only a workers government of the self organised and armed Palestinian masses can guarantee a secular, democratic and nonracist Palestinian State!

· For a Federation of Workers and Peasants Republics of the Middle East!

· For the military defeat of all the invading troops, and for the victory of the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses!

· Out with all the imperialist troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East!

· UN and imperialist hands off Iran!

From Class Struggle 67 June/July 2006

Hands off the Solomons!

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Most of the media coverage of recent events in the Solomon Islands has focused on the sensational details of riot and disorder: burning buildings, beaten-up cops, and looted shops have all been paraded across our screens. Explanations of the reasons for the riots in Honiara have been hard to find. Some commentators like Russell Brown have resorted to racist stereotypes of an uncontrollable ‘communalist’ people; others like the NZ Herald’s Audrey Young have ventured the slightly more sophisticated opinion that the riots were caused by resentment of Chinese and Taiwanese interference in Solomons politics

It’s about imperialism

Missing from the mainstream media has been any sort of account of the role that the United States, Britain and their South Pacific deputy sheriffs Australia and New Zealand, have played in creating and maintaining the manifold problems of Solomon Islands society. The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has faced various criticisms of its handling of the riots, but no one has suggested that the Mission and the regional powers that back it are part of the Solomons’ problems, not their solution.

When mainly Australian and New Zealand troops occupied the Solomons under the banner of RAMSI in 2003 the country was in the grip of a crisis that had been manufactured in the offices of the International Monetary Fund. Under pressure from the Australian and New Zealand governments, the Solomons government had implemented IMF ‘reforms’ that devastated its economy and profoundly destabilised its society.

After gaining independence from Britain in 1977, the Solomons found itself with a primitive infrastructure and an economy fashioned by the selfishness of colonialism that preferred plunder to sustainable economic development. Always heavily dependent on the prices it could get for exports of its raw materials, in particular timber and gold, the Solomons economy took a big hit when the ‘Asian flu’ of 1997 led to a drop in demand in its key export markets. In 1998 alone, the GDP of the country declined by 10%.

Pressured by Britain, Australia, and the US, the government of Bartholomew Ulufa’alu responded by implementing a programme of drastic economic ‘reforms’ drawn up by the International Monetary Fund. The country’s currency was devalued by 20%, and hundreds of public employees were sacked. Conflict between the country’s different ethnic groups followed, and at the beginning of 2000 a coup put Ulufa’alu into ‘protective custody’. Continuing violence left the country’s economy in ruins.

Instead of admitting the role that IMF policies had played in the collapse of the Solomons, the Howard government in Canberra used the chaos in its neighbour to demand even more brutal ‘reforms’ as the price of humanitarian aid. In November 2002 the government of Sir Allan Kemakeza began a new programme of spending and job cuts, sacking a third of public sector employees. Even worse, Kemakeza was forced to cede control of his government’s Finance Ministry to Lloyd Powell, the Australian head of a New Zealand-based multinational company called Solomon Leonard. At a conference held in Honiara in June 2002, the IMF had demanded Powell’s appointment as Permanent Secretary of Finance as the price of any new financial aid to the Solomons.

The second round of IMF reforms had predictable consequences. Even rudimentary health and education services collapsed in the slums of Honiara and in the provinces; power blackouts became frequent even in the capital; law and order broke down as police and judges went unpaid; and competition for scarce government funds renewed conflict between ethnic groups.

Howard rides in as US deputy sheriff

By the middle of 2003 it was clear that the reform of the Solomons economy by imperialism could only take place at gunpoint. The Howard government had become the US’s most loyal ally in the Asia-Pacific region, having just participated in the invasion of Iraq. Proclaiming the Solomons a ‘failed state’ that like Iraq could become a base for terrorists and the cause of regional instability, Australia organised a force of 2,500 troops to occupy the country.

The real reason for the invasion was two-fold. In the first place, Australia and New Zealand feared that the chaos in the Solomons could damage their own economies, by ruining the many Australian companies that do business in the islands. In the second place, the Howard government’s masters in Washington had become alarmed that the government of the Solomons might turn either to China or to France for aid money and help restoring security. With colonies in New Caledonia and French Polynesia, France still maintains a strong presence in the Pacific, and early in 2003 it had offered military aid to the Solomons government. Neither the US nor Australia wanted to see an expansion of French influence in an region they considered their own backyard. After the formation of RAMSI was announced in July 2003 the French offered troops for the force, but were brusquely turned down by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

With its economy booming, China is seeking energetically to expand its influence in the Pacific. The country’s drive to build trade and diplomatic ties has become particularly urgent since the government of Taiwan began using ‘chequebook diplomacy’ to bribe small countries with votes in the UN and similar international bodies to recognise the government in Taipei rather than the government in Beijing. With its view of China as an emerging rival superpower and potential medium-term military foe, the Bush government was concerned by the possibility of increased Chinese involvement in the Solomons. 

NZ follows as the Deputy’s Dog

The government of New Zealand had extra reasons of its own for involving itself in the occupation of the Solomons. After tacking away from Australia and the US by siding with France and China over the invasion of Iraq, the Clark government was desperate to assuage anger in Canberra and Washington by proving that it could ‘play ball’ in the South Pacific. In addition to making up with its old allies, the Labour government believed that it could moderate the unilateralist tendencies of Australia and the US. Clark and her Foreign Minister Phil Goff trumpeted the multinational makeup of RAMSI and the consent of the Kemakeza government to RAMSI’s intervention as triumphs of multinationalism over the ‘Iraq approach’. In reality, the RAMSI force was dominated by Australia, and the Kemakeza government had already been stripped of most of its ability to make independent decisions. The Australian government treated the vote of the Solomons’ parliament as a fait accompli: it had dispatched some 2,000 troops to Honiara before the vote had even been taken.

In the two and three quarter years it has occupied the Solomons the RAMSI force has made it abundantly clear that it acts on behalf of the Pacific’s big states and international capital, not on behalf of the people of the Solomons. Like the army occupying Iraq, RAMSI’s soldiers are exempted from prosecution or even investigation under Solomons law. They have authority over the Solomons’ own police force. Soon after landing in the Solomons RAMSI had begun making sweeping arrests – by the anniversary of the occupation it had detained 700 people, most of whom had not faced any sort of trial. In August 2004 eighty prisoners of RAMSI staged a rebellion at Rove Prison in Honiara. After breaking out of their cells and overpowering guards, the prisoners shouted slogans condemning their inhuman treatment’. Most had been held in solitary confinement for a year. Despite the protest, hundreds of people are still detained without trial in the Solomons.

RAMSI has also felt free to intimidate the population of the Solomons and over-rule the country’s government whenever it has felt the interests of international capital have been threatened. In March 2004, for instance, the Solomons’ remaining public sector workers voted to stage a national strike to demand a pay rise. In an effort to avert a strike, the Solomons government announced a meagre increase of 2.5%. RAMSI’s response was swift: the head of the Solomon Islands Public Employees Union was summoned by RAMSI staff to the Australian embassy, where he was warned that he was ‘destabilising’ the country. Shortly afterwards a RAMSI representative handed the same union leader a written warning that if he did not revoke the pay claim Australian aid to the Solomons would be suspended. Eventually the union capitulated.

Riots legacy of imperialism 

The riots that have destroyed large parts of Honiara in the past week can only be understood against the backdrop of the history of imperialism’s exploitation of the Solomons. The underdevelopment left by British colonialism has been exacerbated by brutal IMF policies which Australia and New Zealand have shown themselves prepared to implement at the point of a gun.

The rioters have accused Taiwanese and Chinese businessmen and diplomats of interfering with the electoral process by bribing key politicians, and condemned the new Prime Minister Snyder Rini as corrupt. But it is imperialism and RAMSI’s occupation of the Solomons which has created the environment for such corruption. The arbitrary, arrogant, and self-interested behaviour of RAMSI has created an atmosphere in which corruption can flourish. IMF policies and RAMSI occupation have greatly weakened the institutions of the Solomons state and cowed the trade unions, which might have acted as watchdogs against corruption. The Chinese and Taiwanese dealmakers and chequebook diplomats have stepped into the economic vacuum created by the failure of IMF policies and Australasian businesses to deliver prosperity.

The Australian and New Zealand governments have responded to the riots in Honiara by sending more troops to prop up RAMSI. Alexander Downer expressed the contempt of the Howard government and RAMSI for the sovereignty of the Solomons when he said last week that:

“The situation there is inherently unstable and our police will have to remain there for a long time to come and we will have to be prepared from time to time to send in military reinforcements if it’s necessary just as it is at the moment.”

Campaign for Australian and New Zealand forces to be withdrawn from the Solomons just as we call for their immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.

From Class Struggle 66 April/May 2006

Written by raved

January 8, 2012 at 10:55 am

Imperialism: policy option or death drive?

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When anti-war activists blame US imperialism or ‘globalisation’ as the cause of wars they usually mean the ‘power elite’ – the ‘neo-cons’ etc who are backed by the oil and arms industry. Imperialism and its wars are ‘bad’ policy options on the part of the US as a ‘world power’ which can be countered by world public opinion – the ‘second world power’’, or the ‘movement of movements’ as the World Social Forum has been called. For Marxists this conception of imperialism as ‘bad policy’ open to reform by an electoral alliance of workers, peasants and ‘good’ capitalists is a reactionary utopia. It is a utopia because imperialism needs wars to survive. It’s on a death drive and cannot be pacified. It is reactionary because it disarms the masses in the face of inevitable destruction and dooms the struggle for socialism. Real anti-imperialism for us does not mean making ‘good’ ‘bad policy’, but terminating the terminator.

There are a number of theories that have arisen in recent years claiming that the Marxist/Leninist concept of imperialism as the highest and final stage of capitalism is wrong.

They argue that the main forces that Lenin saw as driving imperialism to inevitable wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions, do not exist. The rise of finance capital, capital export, the growth of monopolies etc that doomed capitalism to destruction, have been surpassed by new developments such as the new economy that have rescued capitalism and made unlimited growth and the sharing of wealth possible. If this were true, then Marxism would cease to be relevant. Lenin’s theory that class politics is the extension of class economics would be empty phrases. Social classes would not longer exist and socialism as a post-capitalist dream would be made redundant by a just and benign capitalism.

These theorists say that globalisation has replaced imperialist contest between rival capitalist powers. Multilateral agreements between imperialist powers subordinate national interests to the global market and make national conflicts a thing of the past. It was easier to argue this during the 1980’s when the major powers were all allied to the US led ‘cold-war’, and the 1990’s when the UN and NATO officially fronted the wars against Iraq and Serbia. Whatever word is used to describe this ‘consensus’, national differences are now all accommodated under a US global hegemony where all states, including the US as the world’s biggest debtor, are dependent upon one another. Indeed some radicals, like Hardt and Negri in their book Empire published in 2000, say that the US is now so economically weak that it is no longer ‘hegemonic’.[1]

But what if the underlying strength of the US economy is in terminal decline?

What if to survive the US needs to turn its back on international agreements and attack its former allies? What if the US economy is in such a deep crisis that it is forced to revert to naked imperialist aggression on any state that threatens its ‘national interests’. A reversion to unilateral aggression is exactly what has happened since 9-11 under the Bush regime when the ‘world changed’. So the question must be asked: is this reversion an aberration? An aggressive militarist policy option driven by the narrow interests of one section of the US ruling class, the oil barons and arms industries? Or is this return to military occupations and recolonisations driven by a more deep-seated desperation on the part of US capital to survive at all costs? The answer to this question is critical because the solutions offered to this post 9-11 crisis depends on the perceived causes.

The globalisation theorists explain post-9-11 as an aberration. Already they say, the world has passed on. The new knowledge economy has created more wealth across national borders that can be redistributed in rising living standards in the developing world. The new capitalism in the US, Japan and EU does not need wars to make profits, but rather new technology and increasing labour productivity. The dynamic growth areas of the world economy are driven by multinational firms that invest, produce and sell in an integrated world market.

This ‘aberration’ must therefore be caused by a rogue element of the US ruling class that has taken power and used the military to grab scarce resources such as oil and natural gas to make big profits. For example, Chalmers Johnson’s recent book the Sorrows of Empire argues that the military have taken over the US state for this purpose. Chomsky’s analysis of US power is similar; the power elite uses its control of the media to manipulate public opinion to accept an aggressive foreign policy. If these arguments about the US as a ‘rogue state’ are correct, then mass mobilisations that reclaim control of the media and democratic institutions can theoretically regain control of the state for the people. But what if these arguments are not correct and imperialism is not a policy option but a death drive.

The reality is that imperialism is in a life or death crisis.

In the 1970s the world economy experienced a classic crisis of overproduction due to falling profits. Profits fell not because they were squeezed by rising wages but because the corporates could not increase the rate of exploitation fast enough to return a profit on the massive investments that went into plant, machinery and raw materials.[2] To restore profits it was necessary to drastically cut the price of wages (variable capital) and raw materials and machines (constant capital) by whatever means. In the 1890s and 1930s the world economy revived only because depressions and wars drastically cut the costs of plant and machinery and of labour.[3]

In the years since the 1970s ‘crash’, the US economy has failed to revive its economy to outcompete its rivals. The new economy has seen some increases in output and profits, but not sufficient to outperform Japan in cars and China in consumer goods. The recent ‘jobless’ upturn is less to do with new technology replacing jobs than with fewer workers working harder and longer (i.e. increased hours and intensity of work). There has been no massive reduction in the costs of wages or raw materials and the economy has been kept afloat by state borrowing and spending. The money borrowed from its rivals, particularly Japan, means that the US is now heavily in debt. Therefore the US economy is experiencing a deepening crisis of insufficient profits from which it can only survive by embarking on open imperialist wars to recolonise other nations, plundering their raw materials and attacking workers wages and rights at home and abroad to reduce labour costs. As Marxists say, the bosses’ crisis is being solved on the backs of the world’s workers.

It is not the policy of a militarist fraction of the US ruling class that causes war, but that of the whole US ruling class. Imperialism is not an aberration but a necessary result of capitalist crisis today.

So how does the whole ruling class benefit from war? Some corporates benefit directly, while others benefit from the flow-on effects. Of course the military and war industries do gain directly from imperialist wars, but production of arms and munitions is consumed unproductively (apart from R&D spin-offs in other sectors e.g. satellites, jeeps etc) and cannot revive the US economy as a whole. The Bush family and prominent members of the cabinet like Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice profit as shareholders of corporations that supply the military, and the workers in the arms industry earn wages that enter into the GDP – a sort of ‘military Keynesianism’.[4] But military expenditure does not otherwise add value to the economy. A good analogy would be to say that war benefits some bosses like the production of luxury items such as fast cars and jewelry. Theories such as the Permanent Arms Economy promoted by the Cliffites to account for the post-war long boom are fundamentally flawed in failing to recognise this fact.[5]

However unlike luxury cars, planes and tanks can be used to invade and occupy other countries and expropriate their resources and labour supply. The US has seized Iraq’s oil wealth and created hundreds of military bases in the Middle East and central Asia to oversee the plunder of natural resources. In its own poodle-like fashion, the UK has rechristened Gaddafi the former ‘terrorist fiend’ as the west’s ‘loyal friend’ in order to get access to Libya’s oil and gas fields.[6] While the military and oil magnates get the biggest share of this colonial bounty, the flow on effect of the war to the whole US and UK economies will be a vital supply of oil and gas at cheap prices that will lower the price of constant capital (fuel for industry) as well as variable capital (gas for workers cars) not available to their EU and Japanese rivals.[7] At the same time the US can create client states like Bolivia, or protectorates like Bosnia, Kosovo[8] and Iraq, impose the US dollar as the main currency, and threaten to bomb any state that wants to switch from the dollar to the Euro or yen as a rival to the ‘petrodollar’.[9]

We see that the imperialist states’ militarist policies are dictated by the interests of all capitalists.

The big banks and corporations all benefit from imperialist wars and plunder. What Lenin identified as finance capital was the big banks fusing their interests with the big corporations, and becoming monopolies, that is, combines or cartels that dominated whole industries. The monopolies were vertical (like Rockefellers Standard Oil or Carnegie’s Steel Corporation in the US) or horizontal (like the big German cartels) conglomerates that bought up their rivals and set the prices of production in that industry. Because they were national monopolies they had to compete with their rivals in other nations backed by their states. It was this rivalry that led to the export of capital to colonies to gain cheap raw materials and labour and the inevitable wars to divide and rule the whole world market. In what sense do today’s multinational corporations remain monopolies dominated by finance capital which look to their nation states to go to war in their interests as the ‘national interest’?

Monopoly finance capital is now centralised mainly in the hegemonic imperialist power, the USA.

First to the question of finance capital, then that of monopoly, then the question of national interest to show that state monopoly capitalism is alive, but not well.

At the heart of monopoly is finance capital. After Lenin’s death 20th imperialism created state capitalism to survive. Private banks became regulated by the central banks which took over the management of money capital to rescue the corporate sector. Without massive state intervention and ‘military Keynesianism’ after WW1, the big US corporations would have collapsed. The ‘new deal’ like the Keynesian welfare state’ was mainly about benefits to business.[10] Therefore we can say that far from being outdated, finance capital is even more concentrated and centralised today than it was in Lenin’s day.

Today the giant US Federal Bank along with World Bank and International Monetary Fund monopolises global finance capital through the bond market and international credit. The ‘Fed’ creates dollars which are pumped into US business which it then borrows from its rival EU and Japanese money markets in the form of US bonds. But the cost of its debt is offset by the advantages of the dollar as the main international currency. Private monopoly banks, such as Morgan/Chase, BOA and Citibank, are the biggest shareholders in the World Bank and IMF and dominate the loans made to the ‘‘third world’. But such is the crisis of overproduction, most ‘capital’ today is not invested in production but in speculation as ‘fictitious capital. Not only is finance capital concentrated into giant monopolies in the form of central banks and a few giant corporate banks they are all centralised in heart of the US imperialist state. Therefore what became known as ‘state monopoly capitalism’ in Lenin’s day is still the dominant reality in the global economy.

The crisis of overproduction manifests itself as the ‘risks’ associated with anarchic capitalism destroying the forces of production. Capitalism’s quest to plunder the third world is now in its final phase of world domination –exhausting the resources of the former soviet bloc. The end of the Soviet Union has opened up central Asia. There and elsewhere, the race for scarce resources is hotting up the competition between the imperialist powers.

Today capitalist production is highly dependent on non-renewable resources, notably oil, whose supply is rapidly running out. The big corporations are oil pushers, enforcers, or oil junkies.[11] Those who control these scarce resources benefit from ‘rent’ i.e. that is the premium that can be extracted from those who do not own this resource. Capitalism today is an asset-stripping death machine. The risks associated with this drive to survive explains the behavior of all the players.

The US finances its military machine and arms industry to win control in the rent-seeking war game. This is the case in Iraq, Central Asia and Latin America. These are all military fronts in the war for oil, gas or other vital resources. But even such looting of vital resources and the massive military subsidies of the imperialist states, does not make them cheap enough to restore rising rates of surplus value and return acceptable profits on the vast capital stockpile awaiting investment in production. As capitalism drives down its path of destruction it cannot save itself.

There are inherent limits to the gains from capitalist production which is simultaneously destroying the forces of production.

The recent controversy about the US ‘jobless recovery’ illustrates this point. While thousands of migrants flood into the US to fill menial service jobs, productive industry shifts over to ‘lean production’ by exporting jobs to cheap labour countries. In Mexico or China, wage goods (clothes, white goods, electronic goods, cars etc) are produced more cheaply because of low wage costs combined with global lean production methods (cast-off production lines e.g. Korean or Indian cars). This is the same export of capital recognised by Lenin. But now it is up against more fundamental limits set by rock bottom wages as well as productivity caps.

The crisis of the period from 1914 to 1945 was hugely destructive in terms of the devaluation of variable and constant capital. Only out of such a destructive firestorm could the post-war boom emerge. But that boom was limited to the imperialist world and did not extend to the third world and the gap between ‘north and south’ widened dramatically. The accumulation of capital at the centre is now so huge that only a massive destruction of capital on a world scale will restore a return to profitable production. Windfalls like the collapse of the Soviet world extended the capitalist market to its full global reach. But while it created huge chunks of ‘new capital’ to add the world supply, it did not create sufficient means of making sufficient profits on that capital.

Thus early 21st century imperialism is unable to generate enough super-profits to keep pace with its rising capital stock. All the ‘t-shirts in China’ cannot sustain sufficient profits in the US let alone rising living standards of labour in the US. With the decline in new surplus-value from production, potential money capital becomes merely footloose money that devalues unless new sources of ‘value’ can be found. Increasingly finance capital ceases to be the productive investment that drives the development of industry and instead becomes ‘fictitious’ capital which is valueless because it cannot exchanged for commodities and must be gambled away on the prices of commodities. Take the derivatives market of ‘casino capitalism’.
Morgan/Chase the biggest international bank now has 84 times its real capital assets (stockholders funds) gambled on ‘derivatives’.

‘Derivatives’ are bets on future prices. Derivatives are a form of insurance to cover risks of production in a high-risk, unstable, crisis-prone anarchic market. That’s why 80% of such bets are on future interest rates (the price of money). For example futures brokers ‘borrow’ company shares for a fee, sell them to create cash and agree to sell the shares back at a given price. They use the money to speculate on currencies etc, and hope that the shares will be worth less when they buy them back so they can make a profit. This creates huge amounts of debt with no share asset backing. The instability in the market is itself greatly increased by the billions of hot money gambled on future prices every day.

Moreover it is workers that stand to lose most in the casino economy. For every George Soros who may lose billions of fictitious capital there are millions who lose their life savings. The finance mafia bets the savings of the ‘new middle class’ held in pension funds and bank shares. Marx talked about joint stock companies borrowing from small savers as a form of ‘socialising the costs’ of capital. Small savers would always be wiped out in any credit crash. Soros lost millions in 1998 when Russia defaulted on its debt. Morgan/Chase was similarly exposed to the Argentina collapse in 2001 even though the government froze the accounts of small savers (ahoristas) while at the same time allowed the big banks to take their money out of the country.

Such financial crashes destroy the jobs and savings of those workers who have savings. 19th and 20th century imperialist powers justified their smash and grab expansionism by selling it to their working class as a defence of the national interest. Britain had its ‘civilising mission’ and the US had its defence of the ‘free world’. All used ‘international relations’ to pacify and buy off the rising working class challenge to the power of capital. Marx, Engels and Lenin recognised the importance of colonial super-profits, which when trickled down to the ‘new middle class’ bribed it to support imperialism and to turn organised labour into cheerleaders for imperialist wars. Now 21st century imperialism cannot afford to buy off its workers and runs the ultimate risk of eliminating its support base in the ‘labour aristocracy’.

21st century imperialism cannot afford political buyouts so funds patriotic panics.

While it can’t afford to buy patriotism anymore imperialist states appeal to ‘national values’. Foreigners are blamed for taking jobs and cutting wages so that the labour movement becomes geared up to support wars against enemy aliens at home and abroad. As imperialist rivalry hots up trade protection becomes national protectionism in which workers are enlisted to fight the ‘enemy’. But as the costs of imperialist crises and wars become thrust onto the backs of workers (workers welfare axed while corporate welfare – especially oil and war industries – climbs, jobs and wages lost, workers in uniform lose their lives in the war for oil etc) the political class consensus that drove the post-war boom and which has been kept intact from the victory of capitalism over ‘communism, now becomes fractured at home and abroad. Workers and peasants see themselves as pawns in a US corporate war game for world domination. The level of anti-US sentiment outside the US is rising to massive proportions. And the class conflicts in the outside world are now being reproduced inside the US and the other imperialist powers.

This means that resistance in many forms is beginning to emerge. The WSF is a sort of ‘good cop’ imperialism that promotes the illusion that imperialism as a bad policy option that can be globally challenged and reformed. Hardt and Negri’s concept of Empire provides a popular version of this ideological position. There is a reformist labour international around Castro, including Chavez and Lula that promotes social democratic regimes coming together as an international counter-weight to US rogue imperialism. But the severity of the crisis imposed on the masses is rapidly surpassing the capacity of the reformists and their leftwing cheerleaders in the WSF to strangle the exploding resistance movements. Castro, Lula and Chavez attempts to negotiate with imperialism can only be at the expense of their worker and peasant supporters. Once we can see that 21st century imperialism is on the road to destruction, then we understand that only a world working class mobilisation for a global socialist society can offer an alternative. The cost of anarchic date-expired capitalism in the 21st century will be more wars and destruction unless it is replaced by socialism! 

From Class Struggle 55 April-May 2004

Written by raved

January 6, 2010 at 8:06 pm


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From Class Struggle 50, May-June 2003

Aceh is at war again. A truce between the Indonesian government and rebels has been torpedoed by the Indonesian demand that the Acehese renounce their claim to independence. Now Indonesian troops are burning villages and schools and hunting fighters of the Free Aceh Movement through the jungle. What position do revolutionaries take on this question?

Imperialism and Indonesia

The crisis in Aceh is caused by imperialism. Indonesia itself is a creation of imperialism, an unwieldy collection of peoples forced together by arbitrary boundaries drawn up by European capitalists. Imperialist countries like the US, Britain, Japan and the Netherlands continue to exploit Indonesia, sucking big profits from cheap labour and rich natural resources out of the country and into Western banks, and leaving only crumbs for the locals. In his movie The New Rulers of the Earth John Pilger noted that between them the tens of thousands of Indonesians who work in Nike factories earn less in a year than Tiger Woods gets from his advertising contract with Nike. Even in Aceh, one of the richest parts of the country, underdevelopment and foreign control are easy to find. Aceh’s large oil reserves are controlled by multinational companies, most notably Exxon-Mobil. There are few oil-based industries like plastics or chemicals to add value to Aceh’s oil. The big companies give their most skilled jobs to experts from outside Aceh and Indonesia.

From Communism to Nationalism

In the 1950s and early 60s opposition to Western exploitation of Indonesia was led by communists. Attracted by the promise of the seizure of foreign-controlled land and businesses, hundreds of thousands of peasants and workers joined the Indonesian Communist Party. The Communist Party was a serious contender for power in the 1960s, but it was destroyed by Stalinist misleadership and by the CIA-backed coup that brought General Suharto to power in 1965. With US help, Suharto slaughtered over five hundred thousand communists and destroyed the organised working class movement in Indonesia. With class politics driven into the shadows,leadership of the opposition to imperialism passed to nationalists and Islamists. Today, the Free Aceh Movement blends Acehese nationalism and Islamism. But can nationalism and Islamism defeat imperialism? Aceh is a small region, containing only about four million people. The Free Aceh Movement commands around 5,000 fighters, against an occupying force of 45,000. In a quarter century of war, the Acehese have lost at least 40,000 lives without ever looking like gaining independence.

Across Indonesia, the force which has been able to shake the Indonesian ruling class and its imperialist backers is not nationalism or Islamism, but the mass action of workers and peasants. In 1998 it was mass street protests, strikes and land occupations which brought down Suharto, the man Bill Clinton had in 1996 described as ‘our kind of guy’. These protests sparked solidarity actions by students and workers around the world. Unfortunately, without any sort of any organisation in place of the old Communist Party, the workers and peasants of Indonesia were unable to turn the anti-Suharto revolt into a revolution.

As Marxists, we support the Acehese people’s right to independence. The workers in the imperialist countries that have a history of oppressing Aceh such as Britain and the US, and their local ‘peacekeeping’ deputy sheriffs Australia and NZ, should demonstrate that they are on the side of the Acehese people by offering arms and military support.Indonesian workers, students and poor peasants should fight against Megawati Sukarnoputri’ s genocidal attack. If this fails to lead to workers and peasants taking control of the revolution in Aceh out of the hands of the capitalist leadership, then only the experience of living in an ‘independent’ capitalist Aceh will teach the Acehese the truth – that socialism is the real alternative to imperialism. Only when Aceh’s natural resources, land and industry are taken out of private ownership and a planned economy is built, will outside domination of Aceh cease.

The local capitalists who dominate the Free Aceh Movement do not dare to challenge the foreign control of Acehese resources – they wish only to negotiate a better rate for the control of these resources. For that reason, they refuse to mobilise the Acehese working class, and to use strikes and other workers’ tools to fight for independence. They prefer to use guerrilla attacks to rouse the ‘moral conscience’ of the West and drag the Indonesian government to the negotiating table. The leaders of the Free Aceh Movement spends a lot of its time jetting about the world, trying to convince imperialist governments to back its cause. The supreme leader of the Movement is based not in Aceh but in faraway Sweden, that homeland of ‘enlightened imperialism’.

The Khaki Greens and dangerous ‘solidarity’

Protests in support of the Acehese have been called across Australia and New Zealand, with Indonesian embassies and consulates being popular targets. In both countries, the Green Party have emerged as enthusiastic backers of the Free Aceh Movement. This is not surprising – the Greens are cut from the same cloth as the Acehese capitalists. Like the Free Aceh Movement, the Greens are dominated by the interests of local capitalists who are trying to get the multinationals off their backs, and who think that enlightened imperialism can help them. Over the last eighteen months or so the New Zealand Greens have made a name for themselves by calling for the pulling of Kiwi troops, ships and planes out of the Middle East. It’s not so well known that the Greens want these forces redeployed in the Pacific and South Asia, to act in a ‘humanitarian’ role in ‘crises’.

The ‘Khaki’ Greens are all for military adventures, as long as they’re ‘humanitarian’ military adventures like the invasion of East Timor in 1999 or NATO’s war on Yugoslavia in the same year. The Greens want New Zealand to stop helping out the bad guys in the Middle East, and start acting like good guys in Asia and the Pacific. What better place to start than Aceh, with a new ceasefire and some ‘peacekeepers’, perhaps?

Trouble is, New Zealand has always been a bad guy in Asia and the Pacific. New Zealand is a semi-colony of the US – US capitalists own many of our key companies and are able effectively to dictate the New Zealand government’s economic and political policies. It’s not surprising, then, that the US has always been able to count on New Zealand to serve as its Deputy Sheriff in the Asia-Pacific region, from Vietnam to Samoa to East Timor.

Riding on the coat tails of the US, New Zealand has even been able to carve out a sideline career as a mini-imperialist power in the Pacific, sucking profits out of small countries like the Cook Islands and Fiji. Earlier this year we ran an article on the looting of the Solomon Islands by New Zealand, Australia and the International Monetary Fund. We described how ANZAC suits in the South Pacific branch of the IMF had forced the Solomons to cut government spending by a third, and lay off a third of government employees. Now that these IMF ‘reforms’ have intensified the chaos and crime in the Solomons, the Australasian governments and their friends in the mass media have taken to describing that country as a ‘failed state’ and a potential ‘haven for terrorists’. Sound familiar?

The Solomons is not an isolated case: both the US and the ruling classes of Australia and New Zealand are increasingly keen on military intervention in the Pacific and in South Asia. With the backing of the US, New Zealand and Australia combined to quash the independence struggle on Bougainville Island, co-opting the leadership of the Bouganville Revolutionary Army and getting it to sign a sell-out peace deal renouncing independence with the Papua New Guinea government on a New Zealand frigate. Papua New Guinea itself is now being mooted as a candidate for armed ‘humanitarian’ intervention by an Australian intelligence establishment spooked by the political instability in Oz’s former colony. Australia has already begun nibbling at Papua New Guinea’s neighbours – it oversees a neocolony in East Timor, and has flooded Indonesia with secret service forces since last year’s Bali bombing.

For now, Australia, New Zealand and (surprise surprise) the US are all backing the Indonesian government against Aceh. Bush, Howard and Clark all gave the Free Aceh Movement the same line: give up your claim to independence if you want the truce to continue. For now, the US is more worried about Islamists building a state of their own in Aceh than about the instability a new round of fighting could cause. But Aceh is a very important part of South Asia. Not only is it rich in oil, it sits on the western side of a shipping lane that leads to Singapore, one of the busiest ports in the world. There is a real chance that, if instability worsens, the US (and therefore Australia and New Zealand) could decide to change horses, and back a neo-colony over chaos. The US might decide to put its muscle behind an independent Aceh, in return for the Free Aceh Movement guaranteeing it control over the region’s ports and oil. This, of course, is exactly what happened in East Timor back in 1999, when Clinton andstooges like John Howard and Jenny Shipley saw the opportunity of setting up a UN colony and grabbing control of the oil in the Timor Gap.

Solidarity with Aceh, against Imperialism

There is a real danger that the Aceh solidarity movement in Australasia could play into the hands of imperialism, by making arguments for a ‘humanitarian’ intervention in the region. Again, this is what happened in 1999, when mass protests against Indonesian occupation of East Timor were turned into cheerleading sessions for a US-orchestrated invasion that only seemed necessary because the sell-out East Timorese leaders were keeping their troops away from the Indonesians in an effort to ensure massacres that would appeal to the ‘moral conscience’ of Bill Clinton. Today East Timor is a rapidly disintegrating neocolony of the West.

Unemployment stands at 50%, crime is rampant, students are shot for protesting UN occupation, and demobilised Fretelin troops have started a low-level guerrilla war in the countryside. East Timor is the sort of mess that the Khaki Greens’ ‘humanitarian imperialism’ makes.

The Australasian left should show solidarity with the Acehese fight for independence without offering an excuse for any Western military or political intervention in the region. Let’s recognise that the real cause of the war in Aceh is imperialism, not Indonesian brutality or a lack of moral conscience amongst Western governments.

Let’s focus our protests on the US, Australian and New Zealand governments, and on companies like Mobil. We should only target Indonesia with direct action to stop any military gear going through Kiwi ports, for instance. By their very nature, actions like these highlight the links between New Zealand capitalism and the war in Aceh. Symbolic protests focused on the Indonesian government are dangerous, because they bolster the Khaki Green argument that Indonesia acts alone in its oppression of the Acehese, and that ‘neutral’ governments like New Zealand’s might be able to play a ‘humanitarian’ role in Aceh.


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We reprint here an important article from Workers Democracy N8 January 22 on the role of the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre held in the first week of February. We do not necessarily agree with all of the analysis, for example Workers Democracy’s decision to boycott the alternative forums held by the LBI and PO. We do agree with the call an international conference to found a new Zimmerwald. A front to prevent the advance of the Latin American and world-wide revolution, in the service of the imperialistic powers and their lackeys, the Latin American bosses´ regimes.

Yankee imperialism has begun, with the support of the European imperialistic powers and its gendarme the state of Israel, a counter-revolutionary war to try to smash the great revolution of the working class and the Palestinian people. The Israeli genocidal army has entered with blood and fire the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, occupying it, and totally unmasking the farce of a “Palestinian state” co-existing next to Israeli state.

While it threatens to intervene militarily in Colombia, and after bomb-blasting Afghanistan, Bush has jailed in Guantanamo -with the support of Fidel Castro- the heroic internationalist militias that went to fight in Afghanistan.

With these counterrevolutionary blows and offensives, the imperialistic butchers try to give a lesson to the workers and the oppressed peoples of the world, and thus, also to discipline still more their own working classes. It is the counterrevolutionary answer to the great Palestinian Revolution, and to the revolution that has begun in Argentina and whose example and expansive waves represent a threat with the reopening of working class and farmers’ struggles in the whole of Latin America.

If some time ago Yankee imperialism needed to extract from the exploitation and plundering of the semi colonial countries US$ 1000 million daily to maintain its cycle of growth, now under thee blows of the world-wide economic and financial crisis that has hit the US economy, it needs to go bombing and smashing his way like in Afghanistan, attacking its own working class with millions of layoffs, and take on a re-colonizing offensive against the oppressed peoples of the world, so as to maintain its dominant power against the competition of the European powers and Japan.

It needs to eliminate the old borders of the post Second War period, imposing new protectorates like in Kosovo or Afghanistan, with massacres like in East Timor (Indonesia) and sending whole countries into bankruptcy to make them again into colonies, with their economies under the direct control of a board of the big bankers and the imperialistic organizations such as IMF, WB, WTO, etc., as it intends to do in Argentina.

But its counter-revolutionary policy is incomplete if simultaneously the imperialist butchers do not use counterrevolutionaries of all colors in their paid service, so that they strangle from inside the revolutions in their course and restrain the fight of the workers and the exploited. For that reason, (at the same time that the imperialistic strategists reunite in NY for another stage of the Davos round. ) these paid agents and their aides reunite again in February, in the forum of Porto Alegre, Brazil, to form the counterrevolutionary “international”.

There, under the auspices of the governments of the European imperialistic regimes, meet the representatives of Fidel Castro and the Cuban restorationist bureaucracy, who support Bush in its “war against terrorism” and are co-responsible for the imprisonment of the internationalist militia fighters for Afghanistan, in the Yankee Military Headquarters in Guantanamo Bay; thus Fidel and his restorationist clique are completing their tasks to buy their right to recycle themselves as bourgeoisie and accomplish the total restoration of capitalism in Cuba.

Going also re the representatives of the FARC and Latin American Stalinism in all its variants, and even the French imperialistic multimedia Le Monde, and also the Church, which while it speaks of “peace”, blesses the bombs and the weapons of the imperialistic butchers and the defeats of the oppressed peoples, like in Malvinas (so-called Falklands by its long robbers, the British imperialists. NT).

There also will be the European Social Democracy that, with Tony Blair, Jospin, Schroeder, administer the imperialistic European businesses, and the social Democratic and Stalinist union bureaucracy of France, Spain, Italy, etc., who bind the working class of those countries in social pacts to subordinate them each one to their “own” imperialistic bourgeoisie, preventing these workers from supporting the workers and the oppressed peoples, like in the wars in the Balkans and also in Afghanistan.

There also will be the union bureaucracy of the North American AFL-CIO that supports Bush in his war against Afghanistan and his reactionary National Front (that is, the use of great power chauvinism to poison workers’ consciousness and subordinate them to their bosses’ counterrevolutionary and imperialistic plans.), allowing the ferocious attack on its own North American working class, with millions of layoffs, wage cuts and “flexibilization”.

Next to these will be the union bureaucracies of all the American Continent: the CGT and the CTA of Argentina, the CUT of Brazil, the PIT-CNT of Uruguay, the Chilean CUT, etc., elbow to elbow with the employer’s association of the PyMes (Little and Medium-sized Enterprises.) of Argentina, and bosses’ representatives of other countries in all the continent. There will be the leaders of the farmers’ movement of Ecuador, of Bolivia, of the MST (Landless farmers) of Brazil, alongside, for example, the “unions” of the Brazilian police, the same ones the constitute the “death squads” who have assassinated the leader of the Brazilian PT, Celso Daniel, or who protect and arm the white guards of the landowners who have just shot in the back the leader of the MST, Jose Rainha.

Not love, but fear holds them together

What is it that explains the meeting of such like-minded counterrevolutionary leaderships, originating from all points of the planet? How do we understand the uniting in the same Forum of the union bureaucracy of the North American AFL-CIO, agent of Bush and the Yankee monopolies, with the European Social Democracy and union bureaucracies, agents each one of the imperialistic monopolies of France, Germany, Italy, etc? How is it explained that they all meet together, when their respective heads, Yankee imperialism and the European powers are joined in a ferocious commercial war for markets, raw materials and zones of influence, in Latin America, in Asia, in Africa, in the ex-workers states in liquidation like China and Russia?

The explanation is that there is no longer, like before, the great world-wide counter revolutionary apparatus directed and centralized by the Stalinist bureaucracy of the USSR whose role was to contain the world-wide revolution. That Stalinist bureaucracy was recycled as a bourgeoisie, and gave the old worker states of Russia, China and the Eastern European countries over to capitalist restoration. For that reason, there must be a Sacred Union of the Social Democracy in the imperialist countries and the recycled Stalinists who are now the agents for each one of their own bourgeoisies, along with all the treacherous union bureaucracies, as well as the Church, so that they facilitate their role of containment of the world wide revolution.

While today they all attend this forum out of their common interests, that will not prevent them tomorrow to take sides with their respective imperialistic bourgeoisies in the defense of the latter’s separate interests to strengthen each one its master in the coming inter-imperialistic disputes. Moreover, in this same meeting, each imperialistic power is already instructing its own agents to defend its particular interests and businesses.

This “counter-revolutionary International” exists for the sake of strangling the fight of the masses with Popular Front policies of class collaboration.

All these counter revolutionary agents meet in Porto Alegre to discuss how to strangle and to restrain the revolutions and the struggles of the workers and the exploited. Speaking of “humanized Capitalism”, “peace”, “participatory democracy”, “anti-neoliberalism”, they prepare sleep-inducing popular front policies, of class collaboration, to deceive the masses with sweet talk, to thus give time to the imperialistic powers, and to the bourgeois regimes and governments, so that they can prepare their schemes, counter revolutionary attacks and blood baths.

They speak of “peace” to disarm the working class and the exploited farmers wherever they have begun to arm themselves or where they have joined militia, Like in Palestine, and also in order to prevent workers and poor farmers from arming where they are just beginning to think of doing so or even where there is the slightest shadow of a possibility of workers and people arming themselves.

They are definite foes of the self-organization and direct democracy of the masses, they hate the idea of the exploited and oppressed taking into their own hands the resolution of their problems. For that purpose they make social pacts, they divide the working class from the farmers and the ruined middle-class, make them subservient to the different fractions of the bourgeoisie, destroy at each stage what the masses win in the fight. They force them to fight country by country, separate the working class of the semi-colonial countries from their class allies in the imperialistic powers they support, and subordinate these working classes to the interests of their “own” imperialistic bourgeoisies.

Arafat and the national bourgeoisie of Palestine speak of “peace”, say that they want a “Palestinian State” next to the Israeli Zionist state, while they request the UN to intervene with “peace keeping troops”, try to disarm the working class and the people, and keep them separated from their brothers and sisters, the exploited in the whole Middle East. They have given imperialism and the State of Israel and its genocidal army a precious time allowing them to commence the counterrevolutionary war that attempts to smash the Great, Heroic Palestine Revolution.

In Ecuador the Stalinist leadership of the peasants movement and the working class, aborted the revolution. Along with the bourgeoisie, they set a trap for the exploited ones emboldened after throwing out two presidents in less than three years, the peasant masses –separated from the working class, which the Stalinist leaders of the unions had tied up hands-to-feet- were left to carry put revolutionary actions in mid 2000. They had been misguided by their leaders to think the task would be very easy, and sincerely believed their leadership was equally committed to overturn president Noboa as they were. But the bourgeoisie was prepared: it used the army to remove the peasants from the streets and defeated the masses, negotiated with the peasants’ leaders and passed the dollarization of Ecuadorian economy.

In Colombia, the Stalinist leadership of the FARC governs in the territories it occupies with a popular front in collaboration with the national bourgeoisie that controls the cocaine business. It also blocs with the landowners, whose private property is respected in exchange for a “revolutionary tax”, and keeps the peasants separated from the working class in the cities. While, the Stalinist leadership of the unions controls the working class movement, so preventing it from uniting its struggles with the peasants’ and leaves both workers and peasants at the mercy of Pastrana’s government and the paramilitary gangs that assassinate at close range their political leaders and union activists.

In Brazil, Lula and the PT, and the leaders of the CUT –hosts to the Forum of Porto Alegre- speak of “peace” and “participative democracy”, while they tie the hands of the working class with social pacts, divide it from the landless peasants, support the repressive government of Cardoso, while the white guards massacre in the fields and the police death squads reappear to attack the workers’ organizations and the left.

In Chile, the Communist Party that controls the unions and the student federations, supports the “conciliationist” government of Lagos and the cosmetic reforms made to the Constitution of the 80’s, so that the Pinochetist regime can remain unchanged under the mask of an allegedly “democratic” one. In El Salvador and Nicaragua, the FLMN and the Sandinists, respectively, after having bargained the revolution to its enemies in those countries in the 80’s with the Fidelista counterrevolutionary pacts in Esquipulas and Contadora, have transformed themselves into political parties that, in the municipalities and national governments alike, are the administrators of the plans of the IMF.

All together they prepare now to also strangle the Argentine revolution: they are getting ready a popular front of class collaboration with bourgeois politicians like Elisa Carrio and the priest Farinello, with union bureaucrats, Stalinism in its different variants, a deceitful front with which, despite the weakness of the government of Duhalde they will try to induce sleep in the masses to give time to imperialism and the national bourgeoisie to enlist a caste of (military) officials and the paramilitary gangs and killers so that a blood bath is being prepared.

The “International” to fight against the proletarian internationalism.

Against all the affirmations of the secretary of the Yankee Treasury O’Neill, who said that Argentina’s crisis is “isolated”, the tidal wave of the Argentine revolutions has begun to strike in Latin America and the world.

In the first place, in Spain; the imperialistic monopolies of that country lost US$ 2000 million in a day in the Madrid stock-market, the collapse of the shares of Telefonica, Repsol, and the Spanish banks is self-demonstrative. It is clear now that the supposed “Spanish miracle” was nothing but a “false midwinter summer” of “sweet money” based on the enormous windfall profits made by these bloodsuckers at the expense of the super exploitation of the workers and people of Argentina and all Latin America, where they are left with most of the privatized companies!

The imperialistic butchers fear that the tidal wave of the Argentine revolution will revive the worker and popular uprising that began in Latin America in the heat of the Ecuadorian revolution, and that that struggle which was strangled by the action of the union bureaucracies and the Stalinists, now resurrects and regains momentum and in much better conditions, because the worldwide economic and financial crisis already goes to the heart of the United States.

And that wick has begun to ignite: the Bolivian workers and farmers have risen up again in Cochabamba, entering a true civil war with the army and the police, arming themselves and responding to the murder of their companion farmers with the execution of the military that fall into their hands. The university and high school students of Ecuador won the streets confronting the police assassins sent by president Noboa against them, as harbingers of the return to combat of the heroic workers and farmers. The workers and people of Peru persist with a great working class and popular offensive. Yesterday they threw out Fujimori and today they resist the weak government of Toledo.

The imperialists shake their knees in fear to think that, like in the decade of the 70’s, the working class of the Southern Cone, retains the enormous combat efficiency and revolutionary fist that terrorized the bourgeoisie and imperialism in that decade!

The Argentina workers and people need to unite to fight across the borders with our class brothers and sisters in the whole of Latin America, in concerted combat to defeat imperialism and the lackey governments and regimes. We must unite our most powerful class battalions, our brothers and sisters of the North American and European working class, in the first place –with its most exploited sectors, Latino, Blacks, Arabs, Africans, etc.- who are treated as pariahs in those countries, because they can strike at the same heart of these butchers and bloodsuckers.

It is a matter of life or death for the workers and the people that initiated the revolution in Argentina, because there, in the forum of Porto Alegre, are those who are preparing to strangle it. What is more, if we advance and we manage to make our revolution triumph, the imperialistic powers will no doubt try to smash us dropping their bombs, as they did in Afghanistan, and in the Falklands. Can we hope that the AFL-CIO that supports Bush in his re-colonization war against Afghanistan and in the attacks against its own working class, will call upon that class to rise in our support? Can we hope that Fidel Castro, who supports the imprisonment of the internationalist militias in Guantanamo, will call upon the whole continent to rise against imperialism?

Can we hope that the reformist union bureaucracies of the European countries will call on the working class to stop the imperialistic military machine, with a boycott, a general strike and confronting its own bourgeoisie and the imperialistic regimes, when they have allowed them to bomb and massacre in Iraq, in the Balkans, and in Afghanistan?

In order to win the unity of the working class and the exploited people of Latin America, it is necessary to defeat the union bureaucracies and Stalinism. We cannot be united with our class brothers and sisters in the United States, France, or Spain, without the defeat of the labor aristocracy and the union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO and the European unions.

Down with the “counter revolutionary International” of the Porto Alegre Forum!

It is necessary to rebuild the IV International, the one revolutionary International, today usurped and besmirched by the centrists, opportunists and Pabloites! The usurpers of Trotskyism kneel down before this “counter revolutionary International of the Porto Alegre Forum”! Long live the IV International! For an International Conference of principled Trotskyism to rebuild the IV International regenerated and re-founded!

The Porto Alegre forum is the International to that we could call “Fifth and a Quarter”: because it is not only the Second International –the Social Democracy-, the remains of the third International –the Stalinists-, but also has “a quarter” in it, contributed by the centrists, opportunists and Pabloites that usurp the banners of Trotskyism and the Fourth International.

The French LCR will be there, and its leader Alain Krivine, deputy to the den of thieves that is the European “Parliament” –already a defender of the interests of their own imperialistic bourgeoisie; alongside will be the fraternal parties, Bandiera Rossa of Italy, the Spanish LCR that is in the United Left with the Stalinists, and the Democratic Socialists of Brazil, that are in government in Porto Alegre with the PT of Lula.

There will also be Self-determination and Freedom, party of the renegade “Trotskyist” deputy Luis Zamora –today a left-democrat-, the “The Militant” current, the British SWP, the UIT-CI which is supporting the MST of Argentina (long ago a partner of Stalinism in Izquierda Unida, United Left, NTO, the LIT-CI with its PST-U of Brazil and the FOS of Argentina. Also the Workers Party (Partido Obrero) of Argentina, that repeats its shameful tradition as a founder of the Forum of San Pablo, that predecessor of the treacherous Forum of Porto Alegre.

Other currents of self-proclaimed Trotskyists will participate in the “alternative forums” meeting in the outskirts of the official Forum, that are no more that the “left” cover of the counter-revolutionary “international”, that were held at last year’s Forum by the PTS of Argentina and the LBI of Brazil.

The centrists, opportunists and Pabloites run to put themselves on the feet of the Forum of Porto Alegre, showing that their international policy is but the expression of their national policy. Each one of them, in its own country, has adapted to the bourgeois regimes, the union bureaucracy and the Stalinists. The Porto Alegre Forum, that International ” Fifth and a quarter”, is “their” International!

In 1989, the centrist and opportunist currents of the Trotskyist movement -who bowed before Stalinism while the soviet bureaucracy was going into the restorationist camp –exploded in a thousand pieces. Under the weight of great world-historic defeats suffered by the working class with the loss of the workers states at the hands of the capitalist restoration, those currents made a brutal right turn to revisionism and bureaucratic centrism.

But today the revolution in Palestine, Argentine, and the confrontation between revolution and counterrevolution that has become the center of the world stage, under the conditions of stock market crash, economic depression and wars, these currents unmask themselves quickly, and will further explode, have ruptures, crisis and divisions. It is as if they are gasping like fish out of water: nothing of what they write, say and do, has to do with the aspirations, the necessities nor with the combat of the workers and the exploited people. They are exposed by the force of reality: It is not possible to speak in the name of the IVth international, and at the same time to run to put oneself at the feet of the counterrevolutionary International of Porto Alegre!

Today, like yesterday, the principled Trotskyists of the COTP-CI say: Long Live the explosion!, because we know that out of those ruptures and crisis, the lively struggle of tendencies and fractions inside the Trotskyist movement, will come the healthy forces to rebuild the Fourth International. From the Organizing Committee of Principled Trotskyism (Fourth International) and from Workers Democracy, we make an urgent call to oppose this “Fifth and a quarter International” of the treason an to come to gather in an International Conference of Principled Trotskyists. It is necessary to rebuild the Fourth International!

A New Zimmerwald

An International Conference on the lessons and the strategy opposed to the colonial war in Afghanistan, an international campaign for the immediate liberation of the internationalist, anti-imperialist militias imprisoned in Guantanamo, on the lessons and the revolutionary program for the Palestine Revolution, and the revolution that has begun in Argentina. A Conference that raises the fight so that the working class of the United States, the European imperialistic powers and Japan can defeat the AFL-CIO and the reformist union bureaucracies and confront their own imperialistic bourgeoisies, and in this way, unite with the ranks of workers and the oppressed people of the semi-colonies and colonies that today are at the vanguard of the anti-imperialist fight and the world-wide revolution.

In 1914-15, the Second International –Social Democracy- voted for war credits, making the German, French, English and Russian workers kill each other in that slaughter, subordinating them to the interests of their respective imperialistic bourgeoisies. In those black hours for the world-wide working class, a small group of internationalist revolutionaries –Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg, Trotsky, Karl Liebknecht, among other, met in Kienthal and Zimmerwald, confronting the treason of Social Democracy and calling on the workers of the nations at war to turn their guns against their own bourgeoisie and to transform the war into the beginning of the revolution.

It was that handful of internationalists that then applied to the Russian revolution of 1917 the internationalist program of Kienthal and Zimmerwald: to turn the guns against one’s own imperialistic bourgeoisie and to transform the war into socialist revolution, meant in Russia the fight for “All the power to soviets”, the insurrection and the seizure of power by the Bolshevik party supported by the armed soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers.

There, in Kienthal and Zimmerwald, was formed the basis of the revolutionary 3rd International that was to soon bring about the triumph of October!

Today, the time has come for the working class of the world to directly oppose revolution to counterrevolution. From COTP-CI and Workers Democracy, we call urgently to make this International Conference the new Kienthal-Zimmerwald where the principled Trotskyists can recognize themselves and regroup, and put up together an international centralized leadership that unifies the combat against the usurpers of Trotskyism, as the way to regenerate and re-found the Fourth International on a principled basis.

A Kienthal and Zimmerwald which makes the Soviet strategy to fight by, so that the working class and the exploited peoples create their organs of direct democracy and dual power, and that in the heat of that fight can form in the different countries, and in Argentina, revolutionary and internationalist workers parties that are able to prepare the insurrection as an art and to take the working class on to victory. Only with such a fight, only with an international leadership of principled Trotskyists, can we advance on that road!

Written by raved

February 3, 2008 at 10:20 pm


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Build Opposition to U.S. War!

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

We condemn the act of terrorism directed at thousands of US workers on September 11. It sacrificed the lives of workers and did nothing for the cause of the oppressed in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan or any other oppressed country.

Worse it provides the USA with the excuse that it wants to escalate its attacks on these countries with a blank cheque to fight a ‘new war’ against ‘terrorism’. Such a war helps the USA to avoid the charge that it is the world’s No 1 terrorist. More importantly it can combat a collapsing economy as it mobilises its industry in a war drive.

As the US Empire militarises its rule over the masses of poor and oppressed, those who oppose capitalist rule must take a stand now to mobilise the workers of the world to unite and smash imperialism and racism! For an anti-imperialist coalition against racism and war!

Terrorism against workers

The use of civilian planes by terrorists to attack even such prominent targets as the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon cannot advance the cause of the oppressed.

In the first place by killing US workers it makes other workers in the imperialist countries rally around their national flags and volunteer to go to war against their sisters and brothers. While terrorists may do spectacular damage to the symbols of imperialist America, they cannot smash capitalism, because they do not mobilise workers as a class to take power and control of the economy.

Second, terrorism justifies more reactionary state terror against the rights and freedoms of workers and the oppressed at home as well as in those states targeted by imperialism. It further undermines collective class struggle by promoting patriotism and religion both as the cause of conflict and as the solution. The real cause capitalism and real solution socialism become forgotten in the rush to war.

USA NO 1 Terrorist!

The imperialist powers and their agents historically have perpetrated the vast majority of terrorist acts. The use of the Atomic bomb on Japan in 1945; The massacre of millions in Vietnam; The half million who died in Indonesia in 1965 at the hands of Suharto backed by the US; The millions displaced and dead in Palestine since 1948; The half million children dead at the hands of US sanctions in Iraq since 1990. And this is only the US hit list and only the worst. The list goes on and on.

It is the extreme powerlessness of oppressed people that drives some to adopt a terrorist response. The ultimate blame for terrorism therefore must lie with the imperialists. In this sense the September 11 attacks were a logical and predicable response to US policies in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America for decades. The terrorists could just have well come from any of these continents.

What’s more these ‘terrorists’ are often trained and financed by the USA to be used against its enemies. Saddam Hussein was backed by the USA in Iraq’s war with Iran. Noriega was the USA’s man in Panama. Osama bin Laden was financed by the USA to fight the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. It would be no surprise to find that some of the pilots in the attack of September 11 were trained in the US Naval Air training school in Annapolis.

USA gears up for war

The attacks on September 11 provide a perfect pretext for US imperialism to escalate its hegemonic role as moral guardian and world policeman. The USA could not have done it better had it supplied the personnel as well as the training for the terrorists.

The USA has been able to mobilise its friends and rival powers in EU and Asia to back its ‘new war’. NATO has invoked the clause that treats an attack on the USA as an attack on each of its 17 members. Russia has committed itself to support NATO against terrorism provided the charges are proved. Pakistan has been pressured to demand that bin Laden be handed over. China can hardly oppose the USA and stay in the WTO.

So the declaration of war by George Bush is a blank cheque to attack any ‘terrorist’ target. It is the perfect end to a ten- year campaign to demonise Islam. Since the end of the cold war in 1990, the USA has promoted Islamic fundamentalism as the new world enemy. It has cast Osama bin Laden in the role of No 1 terrorist. Saddam Hussein and Palestinian groups like Hamas are second and third in line. The USA and its imperialist allies can now use the September 11 attacks to mobilise support for an unlimited war against any power, state, or individual that opposes US domination of the world.

War serves the economy

While the drive to war appears to be a political struggle of the powerful against the powerless, its purpose is to maintain US economic control of scarce resources such as oil in contested areas like the Middle East and Central Asia. Such control becomes more urgent as the world economy goes into a major recession. For the first time since the 1930’s the world economy is suffering a global downturn.

The US economy that has kept the rest of the world economy afloat in the last ten years is now in serious recession. The militarisation of the world is necessary to step up the repression of the poor and working class who are fighting back against this worsening depression. This global war on poverty targets the victims of poverty and has its model in the Plan Colombia.

US Plans for Latin America

The USA has for many years militarised its rule over Latin America. Its ruthless policies of supporting military dictatorships and of direct intervention in Cuba 1963, Chile 1973, Nicaragua 1979, Granada 1983, and Panama 1989, have created a joint military machine with its client states.

More recently it has promoted Plan Colombia, a Vietnam- style invasion of US troops and other personnel to fight the FARC under the guise of a war on drugs. There is now Plan Bolivia and looming up a Plan Argentina. In each case the armed resistance of the workers and peasants is labelled ‘communism’, ‘terrorism’ or a ‘war on drugs’ and a ‘counter-terrorist’ Plan devised and promoted to suppress it. The US working class barely notices these counter- revolutionary activities.

Plan Islam

But now the US ruling class is embarking on a drive to war that will take the form of a new religious crusade, a Plan Islam, to justify attacks upon and occupations of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries, and open up new colonies in the Middle East and Central Asia. Already demands have been placed on the Taliban to hand over bin Laden, and also upon Pakistan to collaborate in any action against Afghanistan. The USA will go to war when its preparations are complete.

While the pretext is fighting terrorism in the name of democracy and freedom, the object will be to advance the US domination of the world economy against its weaker imperialist rivals the EU and Japan by eliminating any opposition to this Empire Amerika. These events prove that while war is politics, politics is concentrated economics.

Anti-capitalist movement

The drive to global war will be a baptism of fire for the youthful anti- capitalist movement and the ‘left’ in general. Vietnamese, Latin Americans, Iraqis, Palestinians Somalis and Yugoslavs have already suffered years of localised warfare.

The Western anti-war movement struggled to oppose these local wars against what was labelled as ‘communism’ or ‘terrorism’. Those who opposed war on both sides, rather than unconditionally defend the oppressed states against imperialism, weakened this movement.

The ‘new war’ against Islam will overtake all other anti- capitalist movements and force them to take sides for or against imperialism. Those who will not defend Iraq or Afghanistan because of Saddam or the Taliban do not understand that these dictatorships are the product of imperialism.

Not to defend them ensures that their defeat by imperialism makes it more difficult for the workers of Iraq or Afghanistan to overthrow these dictators. It is necessary for the Western left to overcome its pacifism and form itself into a strong anti-imperialist front against imperialist racism and war.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

Opposition to imperialist war can only be built in the working class whose interests are united with the worker and poor peasant masses of the oppressed countries. Anti-war movements that remain trapped in the pacifist and reformist ideology of the imperialist petty bourgeois and labour aristocracy will always support the lesser evil of imperialist democracy over dictatorships in oppressed states.

The first task of working class has always been to stand shoulder to shoulder with all oppressed peoples against imperialism. Against the ruling class forces that line up behind Plan Islam, revolutionaries must be in the front ranks of the troops that confront the class enemy. Greens, anarchists, socialists, and communists who are engaged in a variety of anti-capitalists actions must unite in solidarity against imperialist war and prepare to take on the military machine in their own imperialist heartlands.

No to the US ‘new war’ against Islam!

NZ out of ANZUS!

NZ out of Echelon!

Defend Afghanistan!

For Palestine Liberation!

End the Sanctions on Iraq!

End racist attacks!

Self Defence is No Offense!

Form Self Defence Groups!

Fight Racism and Imperialism!

For an Anti-imperialist United Front

Class Struggle No 41 October-November 2001

Written by raved

August 28, 2007 at 9:17 pm

For the Military victory of Yugoslavia! [June 1999]

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Joint Statement

At this moment, a military alliance headed by the U.S.A., composed of nineteen countries and equipped with the most advanced warlike technology of the planet, triggers an aerial bombing on one of the poorest countries of Europe. A rain of North-American cruise missiles destroys several cities of the Yugoslav Federation (composed of Serbia, Montenegro, Vojvodine and Kosovo).

One does not know yet how many hundreds of Serbs were assassinated by the imperialistic projectiles, but independently of the number of dead, the results of the attack left painful scars in the population, who have been living for more than one decade under the conditions of a semi-colony isolated by a criminal economic international blockade.

The imperialistic front counts on the active collaboration of all the European Social-democratic governments, i.e. the bombers left from bases located in Italy, a country led by premier Massimo D’Alema, formed leader of the Italian Communist Party. The attack, justified by its authors for “humanitarian reasons” also deepens enormously the misery that affects the Serbian masses, as well as the Albanians of Kosovo, destroying what still remains of the Yugoslav economy after one decade of wars.

The first step of the attack was the retirement of an army of 1,400 observers of the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which since October of 1998 was in the Yugoslav Federation on the pretext of guaranteeing the cease-fire between Serbs and Kosovars.

But in fact it was dedicated to espionage, preparing for better conditions for a NATO attack and the instalment of a military base in the region. A manoeuvre that is already well known and which was applied recently in Iraq by the U.S.A. With this trick, pretending to be engaged in international control, the great powers infiltrate agents to gather information, which is used in a future attack on the inspected country.

Nevertheless, that is not the only similarity between the present conflict and the Yankee’s wars against Iraq. As well as with Saddam Hussein, the bourgeois mass media tried to present the enemy, Milosevic, as the greatest Satan of the times, the new Hitler, etc., as they always do in these situations to justify the slaughter of the bombings of the oppressed countries led by dictators.

Moreover, like the Iraqi people, the Serbs live under a criminal economic imperialistic blockade applied by “the democrats” and Social-democrat governments of the U.S.A. and Europe. In addition, the criminal action was decided even though Milosevic had capitulated under the conditions demanded in the negotiations of Paris, accepting the self-determination of Kosovo under the plans imposed by the international capitalist organisations. Clinton and the Social- democrat governments of Europe initiated the bombing because Belgrade did not allow a foreign military intervention of 28 thousand soldiers in its territory.

This demonstrates that the occupation is not a way to guarantee the “peace agreements”, but an aim in itself. An objective of NATO is to place a military base within Eastern Europe. For that reason, they granted to Kosovo’s people an autonomy under the control of the bayonets of the imperialistic troops for a minimum term of three years. In this period, on top of disarming the Serbian forces of the region of Kosovo, they would also try to disarm the UCK/KLA.

To accept an autonomy controlled by imperialism means for Kosovo’s people to be left under conditions of national oppression still worse than those they have today. The aerial bombings that they have undergone in these days in Pristina, the capital of the province of Kosovo, are demonstrations of the true methods that will be applied by imperialism in Kosovo.

In spite of the pro-imperialistic Kosovo leaders, who today call for foreign intervention, the Albanian guerrillas of Kosovo have been a permanent problem for the U.S.A. and the European powers, and have crossed the Yugoslav frontiers determined by the peace agreements.

The fight for Albanian national liberation in Kosovo has inflamed the Albanians of the neighbouring countries, particularly of Albania (which since the popular rising of 1997 lives under another military intervention of the NATO) and Macedonia (where there also exists a significant population of Albanian origin). The Albano-Macedonean press used to idolise the heroic fighters from across the border, and the land is more than ready for the appearance of political demands for Albanian independence more radical than the options represented by the main Albano-Macedonean parties that exist nowadays.(El País, 23/03/99).

Because of that, imperialism knows that military intervention will be neither a calm nor a quick walkover! In fact, they speak about a five-year occupation of NATO troops in the south of the Balkans!.(idem)

The intervention brings an increasing number of confrontations between Washington and Moscow. Although Russia has transformed itself into a semicolony, it still has one of the largest arsenals on the planet. It is also aware that the extension of the military control of the Atlantic Alliance into the Balkans is directed towards the European east with the aim to occupy the space of military and political influence left by the Warsaw Pact. The U.S.A. has been modifying the correlation of forces in its favour in the East, and it is not by chance that three former Degenerate Workers States have entered into the Atlantic Alliance of imperialism.

Worried by the imperialistic advance of the Yankees, the Russian leaders were alarmed by the intensity of the conflict. The first minister Primakov declared that the use of the force “would cause a deep destabilising effect in Yugoslavia, Kosovo, the whole Europe and the entire world”.(El País, 23/03/99). Even the minister of Defence, Sergueiev, said that “the bombings, would cause a second Vietnam, but this time, within Europe.” (Folha do Sao Paulo, 24/03/99).

However Russian opposition to the attack does not go beyond declarations to the worldwide press. In addition, it does not do it because of humanitarian reasons, but because it feels that the next step of the NATO towards the European east is going into its own border republics, where Russia itself exerts a national oppression.

At this moment, it is necessary to defend unconditionally the Serbian population who is on Yugoslavia’s side. If it wins over Yugoslavia, imperialism will be in a better condition to exert its dominion on Europe, to recolonise the European east and to oppress the remaining peoples of the planet.

On the other hand, a defeat of the NATO would give a great impulse to the anti-imperialist fight and to the national liberation of the Balkans, in the heart of east Europe, weakening the Social-democratic governments, who attack the labour and social conquests of the workers. At the same time it would put in trouble the dictatorship of Milosevic.

The leftists that do not support the military victory of Yugoslavia because of the bloodthirsty character of Milosevic should use the same criterion to refuse support to Iraq under the bombings of the U.S.A. Is perhaps Saddam Hussein less bloodthirsty than Milosevic?

The only way to stop the chauvinism of Milosevic is to oppose this new form of oppression in Yugoslavia under the bayonets of imperialism, and to defeat the NATO forces by making an anti-imperialist united front with Yugoslavia.

Freeing the country of imperialism breaks the conditions of oppression that generate the Serbian chauvinism, creating in this way better conditions for getting rid of Milosevic.

Today, refusing to make a military united front with Yugoslavia against the NATO is supporting the imperialistic bombings. There can be no progressive solution in the policy of the Serbian or Kosovar nationalism. Milosevic tries to divert popular discontent with the economic crisis of the country towards chauvinism against the ethnic minorities. The leaders of the Albanians, Rugova and the UCK/KLA, hope to get rid of the Serbian yoke by agreeing to a new oppression and a false autonomy under the control of the NATO.

The Kosovo and Serb masses must not fall in this trap. The Serbian workers cannot win anything with the oppression exerted by the capitalist government of Belgrade on the Kosovo Albanians. They must fight for Albanian self-determination, for the right to separate themselves from Yugoslavia and to join Albania and Macedonia if they wish.

In this form, it is even possible to win the Albanians, who see with distrust the imperialistic manoeuvres, to fight for the expulsion of the NATO from the Balkans. It is necessary to construct the proletarian unity of the masses of the Balkans against mankind’s main enemy, imperialism.

It is necessary to forge a revolutionary internationalist party in the region, which would break with the nationalist leaders and would take the way of the proletarian direction to defeat and expel to the NATO and the imperialism from the region; wonder to construct a Federation of Socialist Republic in the Balkans.

We call to all the organisations that fight for the defence of the oppressed peoples to take action with marches and demonstrations of protest in the embassies of the imperialistic powers against the attack of the NATO against Yugoslavia, calling for the immediate recall of all troops and stop to the bombings in the Balkans. It is necessary to unify the fight in defence of the Yugoslav people with the combat against all the NATO and pro-imperialistic governments which support this military attack.

Defeat and expel the Yankee imperialism and the NATO from the Balkans!

Serb, Albanian and all Balkan workers unite against capitalist restoration, ethnic

cleansing and imperialism.

For multi-ethnic workers councils

and militias.

Self-determination for Kosovo!

For a Socialist Federation of the Balkans!

24th March 1999 (translated from the Spanish)

Internationalist Bolshevik Liaison – LBI (Brazil)

Workers Revolutionary Party – POR (Argentine)

Committee Of Worker and Socialist Initiative – CIOS (Argentina)

Orthodox Trotskyist Group (Brazil)

Trotskyist Faction (Brazil)

Liaison Committee of Militants for a Revolutionary Communist International – CEMICOR/LCMRCI

From Class Struggle, No 27 May-June 1999

Written by raved

August 26, 2007 at 11:14 pm

Yugoslavia: Whose side are you on? [June 1999]

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We cannot understand the significance of NATO’s war against Yugoslavia unless we trace the role of imperialism in the breakup of Yugoslavia as a political campaign to destroy “communism” and consolidate the post-cold war US hegemony. Without this analysis the left strays from a proletarian perspective.

The ‘democratic imperialists’

On the issue of the war most of the left are moving right behind Social Democracy which has become the “new right” according to the Le Monde Diplomatique. It is no accident that Blair, Clinton, Schroeder etc are all rightwing Social Democrats. The Greens are also totally compromised by their support of the bombing. Talk of splits in Social Democracy and the Greens may become real if the war continues if the pacifist rank and file rejects their leaderships. This may restore some reformist credibility in the sense of providing a ‘left cover’ for the Blairite centre.

Already providing a cover for the ‘new middle’ is the pro-imperialist pacifist ‘far left’. This sucks up to imperialism by opposing NATO bombing, yet defends imperialist intervention in some form or other in the name of Kosovo’s human rights and bourgeois democracy. These include the Usec (International Viewpoint) and Rouge in Europe, and Green Left in Australia

Fundamentally these criticisms of the bombing are not unconditional opposition to imperialism, but criticism of war as a tactic in advancing human rights! Some say Serbian ‘fascism’ is equal to or worse than NATO imperialism (Australian Green Left Weekly, Michael Karadjis, “Chossudovsky’s frame-up of the KLA”).

Underlying this capitulation to ‘democratic imperialism’ is a Eurocentric racism which brands and demonises Slavs as backward, uncivilised etc needing to be taught a lesson by the West’s moral campaign for human rights. It is no surprise that these groups tend to hate Stalinism as totally reactionary. That is, they have always backed anti-Stalinist bourgeois democratic social movements as being more progressive than the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Degenerated Workers States.

The Socialist Workers: some history

The most obvious case is the International Socialist current, often called the ‘Cliffites’ after their main historic leader Tony Cliff (SWO in NZ). Their hostility to Stalinism is legendary originating in a split between Shachtman and Trotsky in 1939 over the defence of the Soviet Union. Trotsky distinguished between a healthy workers’ state and a degenerated workers state ruled by a Stalinist bureaucracy. This bureaucracy would have to be overthrown by a political revolution to create a healthy workers state.

Yet Trotsky subordinated the overthrow of the Stalinists to the defence of workers property against imperialism. He said that this might mean blocking with the Stalinists to defend the Soviet Union. But the Cliffites were hostile to Stalinism, and they rejected Trotsky’s analysis of the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers state. They put forward instead their theory of ‘state capitalism’ which had no progressive features worth defending. They took the infamous double defeatist position -“neither Washington nor Moscow.”

The first test of this position came in 1950 with the Korean war when the Cliffites refused to take sides in the UN/US attack on the Democratic Republic of Korea. Today in the case of Yugoslavia where capitalism has been restored the Cliffites hostility to Stalinism is still evident in the opposition to the former Stalinist Milosovic.

To call for the defeat of NATO and Milosovic in Kosovo at the same time is to take a dual defeatist position on the war, equating the two sides as equally bad.

The social base of this dual defeatist position is the petty bourgeois labour aristocracy in the imperialist states. Trotsky’s original critique of Shachtman still holds. The “petty bourgeois opposition”, as he called it, was adapting to the onset of the cold war which hyped-up US workers against the SU as a Stalinist dictatorship equal to Hitler’s fascism. The opposition caved in to this media blitz and adopted the state capitalist position. This adaptation to anti-Stalinist public opinion is still evident today. It accounts for the Cliffites inability to withstand NATO’s media campaign to demonise Serbia and Milosovic, and their call for Milosovic to get out of Kosovo when the effect of that call is to weaken Yugoslavia’s defence against NATO!

Solving the National Question

On the other hand, the so-called ‘ultraleft’ says the national question is now wholly subordinated to the defence of Yugoslavia. For example, the ICL (Spartacists) and the Marxist Workers Group (MWG) “subordinates” the national question to the united front against imperialism as if they were separate questions. While it is correct to unconditionally oppose NATO (i.e not making the defeat of Milosovic and the defence of the KLA conditions of that stand) we cannot eliminate the national question from our programme by making it merely an effect of a future working class revolution. We have to do more than proclaim the end of the Kosovo question; we have to actively turn the national question into the class question (as we explain below).

Former Stalinists, and Trotskyist currents like the Spartacists and the MWG, take a view of the national question, which reduces it to its leadership. This misses the point of the Leninist fight to champion the national rights oppressed workers in order to win them away from their reactionary chauvinist leaderships to the struggle for socialism.

Therefore, for these tendencies, the fact that Kosovo liberation is led by the KLA which is covertly armed and trained by the US, and which now acts as the “ground troops” for NATO, disqualifies the Kosovo struggle as reactionary.

But why should the reactionary leadership disqualify the national rights of the majority? All national struggles against oppression are led by reactionary, or potentially reactionary, leaders whose interests are much closer to imperialism than those of workers and peasants. InYugoslavia, the anti-imperialist UF against NATO is led by Milosovic, who is no democrat. Yet he is no fascist. But even if he were a fascist that would still be no reason to abandon the defence of Yugoslavia.

Trotskyists defend oppressed countries from imperialism despite their reactionary leaderships. This is because imperialism is the main enemy. It creates the conditions for reactionary leaders. A victory for imperialism is always an outright defeat for workers because it allows imperialism a free hand to impose worse economic and political conditions on workers. This is why the defence of on an oppressed country in a war with imperialism is unconditional.

However, while our military bloc against imperialism is unconditional workers must maintain a political and military independence from the bourgeois leadership. This is because in the national struggle an independent working class leadership can emerge capable of replacing the bourgeois leadership and winning against imperialism by turning imperialist war into class war.

So just as we bloc militarily with Milosovic while he is fighting against NATO, the fact that the Kosovo struggle is currently misled by the KLA in league with NATO is no reason for abandoning the national rights of the majority of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Inside the UF against imperialism we fight to build workers multi-ethnic militia which can prevent ethnic violence from dividing and destroying workers unity.

It is because this ‘ultraleft’ current is pro-Stalinist, and tends to put its faith in Stalinist (or ex-Stalinist) bureaucrats, that it rejects national struggles led by non-Stalinist elements, and turns the struggle to build an independent revolutionary leadership into a lifeless abstraction. It fails to see that the while the Kosovo national question has to be subordinated to the Yugoslav national defence against NATO, nevertheless inside the anti-imperialist UF, Kosovo has to be raised in order to create the conditions for workers internationalism. Without that internationalism there can be no socialist revolution capable of resolving all national questions by a free choice of peoples to form Socialist Republics within wider Federations.

Revolutionary dialectics

Our position is neither of these flipflops. The clearest way to understand revolutionary politics is to follow the class line of dialectics. It is no accident that Trotsky saw dialectics as the key to socialist revolution and the abandonment of dialectics as the sure evidence of capitulation to bourgeois ideology and abstaining from the leadership of the proletariat. Once again, imperialist war becomes the crucial test of the ability of Trotskyists to understand the class line.

As Trotsky taught us, imperialism represents the main capitalist enemy with the power to set-up and destroy whole nations by economic, political and military means. Therefore we must subordinate our struggle against any given national bourgeoisie to a united front against imperialism. But since the national bourgeoisie are ultimately serving the interests of imperialism, only a working class opposition to imperialism can ensure the defeat of both.

Thus, in the case of the current war, while we subordinate the Kosovo question to the defence of Yugoslavia, we subordinate both to the building of an international working class opposition that can win a victory over imperialism and allow the free development of national rights within the framework of a Federation of Socialist Republics.

We can see that imperialism has successfully divided and ruled the former Yugoslav Federation of degenerated workers states. It has restored capitalism and imposed -IMF austerity programmes. And it has promoted former Stalinists or fascists as ultranationalist bourgeois leaders all bent on grabbing territory and ethnically cleansing any opposition. Any imperialist intervention, military or ‘humanitarian’, as we have seen in many places as well as Yugoslavia, cannot defend national or human rights, and only strengthens the hand of reaction. It is designed to set up compliant client mini-states of imperialism as “Mafia republics”, or military bases as part of the strategy to partition and exploit the resources of Central , South and East Asia.

Because of imperialism’s divide and rule tactic we are on the side of oppressed nations. We are for the unconditional right to self-determination of any oppressed people which democratically expresses this right. However, we do not support the reactionary leaderships of independence movements, or its imperialist backers, since this the opposite of self-determination.

So while we unconditionally defend Yugoslavia against NATO and the KLA, we also call for the right of Kosovars to self-defence against Yugoslav repression. This right has to be raised along with the demand for multi-ethnic militias capable of uniting workers against repression on all sides.

We do not call for Independence for Kosovo now because that would mean a victory for the KLA. Not because it has got its arms and supplies from imperialism, but because it has accepted the imperialist strings attached to these- that is, support of NATO bombing Yugoslavia to make Kosovo free!

Against US domination of the whole Balkan region, Serbian, Kosovar Albanian, Albanian, Croatian etc., self-determination can only result from the united Yugoslav workers overcoming the imperialist divide and rule strategy of fomenting ethnic chauvinism and removing their ultranationalist leaders to create a Federation of Socialist Republics of the Balkans.

But this will only happen during the unconditional defence of Yugoslavia where the bourgeois misleaders will be shown to be on the side of imperialism not the workers of Yugoslavia. Milosovic cannot defend Yugoslavia and will do a deal, probably brokered by Russia, another US semi-colonial dependency desperate for IMF funds, for the partition of Kosovo under UN “peacekeeping troops”. The KLA and the Albanian bourgeoisie in the pay of the US have already done their deal – and the price for ordinary ethnic Albanians is bombing, displacement and chaos.

Such deals are a major defeat for Yugoslav, Kosovar, and all Balkan workers, as well as workers everywhere, as they legitimise a NATO/UN “hardcop-softcop” routine to intervene at will in any oppressed country on the pretext of defending ‘human rights’.

Therefore, it is necessary to actively call for workers to unite across ethnic lines as the only way that Yugoslavia can be truly defended. This internationalism must be taken up by workers in the NATO countries following the example of Italian and Greek workers.

The main enemies are at home!

Turn Imperialist war into civil war!

From Class Struggle No 27 May-June 1999

Written by raved

August 26, 2007 at 11:10 pm

Workers answer to APEC [June 1999]

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In the last issue we covered some of the history and background of the APEC forum now we look closely at the imperialist character and further develop a workers approach to such international groupings.

The APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation) forum is dominated by the imperialist interests of the U.S. and Japan. These are both competing for access to resources (raw materials, cheap labour) in the member countries.

Meanwhile the big union ‘worker’ leaderships try to get a social clause into APEC. A social clause means some minimal labour rights, ‘justice’, and doesn’t exploit the workers too obviously.

CTU begs at the APEC table

The CTU (Council of Trade Unions) has further revealed just how rotten it is. Angela Foulkes (CTU secretary) has lined up for the Prime Minister’s promotions team to hype APEC. The media over-kill is business as usual. They paid Sean Fitzpatrick to “hock the family silver” (in the promotion of the sale of the Auckland International Airport).

The CTU obviously thinks that it can ‘reform’ APEC with these proposals so that it is not hostile to workers interests. But it is naive of the CTU to think it can tame capitalism by participating in APEC. However, it is not surprising given the rightward drift of the whole traditional Labour leadership. For example, just remember the so-called “Labour” Party showed itself as a bosses’ party between 1984 to 1990. Another example was the CTU’s refusal to lead a fight against the Employment Contracts Act.

However as workers we remain tied into these rotten leaderships, and one of our first tasks has to be to show up these mis-leaders so they can be removed and replaced by accountable representatives. Then workers will be able to strike out in a progressive direction.

For democratic fighting unions: Unions that are run by the members and fighting to defend wages and conditions, in the first instance.

We also need a party of communist workers to provide a lead to militant workers. Otherwise, the union movement will remain tied by the “labour bureaucracy” to the capitalist class. The labour bureaucrats are the paid workers of a union. Their interests are to protect and preserve their own wages and privileges. Therefore, they do not raise a challenge to capitalism; their role invites them to negotiate with capitalism.

TUF oppose APEC

The Trade Union Federation (TUF) is working in opposition to APEC under the slogan; “Fair trade before free trade”. TUF have a set of demands, some of which are worth supporting, and are part of the opposition to APEC.

The Trade Union Federation says:

APEC does not represent the interests of democratic governments in the region but of Trans-National Corporations. The lack of democratic structure and process in APEC supports the dominance of a narrow and destructive business agenda.

1) Aotearoa/New Zealand should withdraw immediately from APEC.

2) Aotearoa/New Zealand should call for the dissolution of APEC.

3) The Government should provide a full and objective National Interest Analysis of existing trade and investment policy, to be subject to further submissions before the select committee and full parliamentary and public debate.

4) Aotearoa/New Zealand should advocate the establishment of a properly constituted forum on regional economic co-operation and development comprised of member nations. This forum would produce a constitution based on the promotion of democratic control, social justice and self-determination amongst member states. It would consider the impact of globalisation and World Trade Organisation initiatives on member states in the light of these principles, including such questions as the relationship between investment flows and trade barriers, the equitable distribution of income both between and within member states and the role of trade in the national development of member states. Its first priority would be to commission a comprehensive empirical study of the impact of trade liberalisation over the last twenty years in the Asia Pacific region and assess the evidence of this study in terms of a wide range of social and economic criteria.

5) That the Government immediately adopts a policy of national economic development. That should include the specific goal of moving the Gross National Product to the level of the Gross Domestic Product within the next three years.

6) That the Government immediately announces the freezing of 1998 tariff levels until the year 2005 and a review of all other APEC “commitments

However, “fair trade” like the promise of a “level playing field” is bullshit and the TUF won’t get “fair” trade under capitalism. Trade is based on the sale of commodities produced by labour and unless all the value of the commodity goes to the labourer or producer there can be no “fair trade” any more than exploitation can be “fair”.

So what is wrong with “free trade” is not hat it is unfair but is based on the same lie as the “free market” under global capitalism. There is nothing “free” about the market when one group of sellers, wageworkers are forced to sell their labour to be exploited or else starve. TUF’s position on “fair trade” implies that it thinks that exploitation results from “unfair” wages that can be corrected by state legislation.

The overall character of the TUF opposition is liberal. In effect it wants an international body (global government?) to set the rules for capitalism. They only want it to be a little easier for working people. They have the classic liberal mission before them; to humanise the capitalist system (eg they call for “social justice” and “self-determination”). We say that is impossible under capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system that reduces humans to the profits it wants to extract from us. There is no true “free trade” under Imperialism, and “fair trade” is impossible while the capitalist system of exploitation remains. We need to overthrow capitalism and build a new system.

Build a workers fightback

Workers cannot deny the realities of capitalism eg. concentration and centralisation of capital in giant Transnational Corporations. We know this because it hits out at workers. Whole industries have been shifted offshore, and workers have had to travel to gain a job. In other industries (eg. wood) workplaces have closed or been “restructured” and workers laid off.

Another reality of “free” trade under capitalism is that capital can move more freely (than workers). The TNCs can ship entire plants to whichever economy they wish to site it in, eg. Kenson industries shipped machinery out within days of shutting the workers out.

Against this capitalist programme we say workers need to occupy factories or plants threatened with closure. That forces the question to be asked; is the plant the boss’s machines or the workers? It is built and operated and practically lived-in by workers. Or, is it machines, the capitalists’ property” which produces value? We would expect that capitalists will defend their property rights with all their might – i.e. the state forces. Then we would need workers self-defence militia.

We also fight for open all borders for all working people: No bars on workers migration. As capital is mobile and does not have to obey immigration laws, so should workers be free to go where there are jobs. We fight for the rights of migrant workers to equal conditions and citizenship. This gives effect to the reality that workers have no country and are part of an international labour force and cannot defend their interests by lining up behind their nationalist bosses to fight trade wars and military wars.

The Struggle against Imperialism

The imperialist powers can trade more freely than smaller (semi-colonial) nations. The size of their companies means they have an advantage, and can reap a super-profit. We describe weak economies as semi-colonies where they are controlled, owned, or otherwise dominated by international capital.

We say that NZ is a semi-colony as the economy is super-exploited by imperialism. Apart from the already high and growing level of direct foreign investment in the privatised state assets in energy (see article on Power to the Powerful), resources (e.g. Timber – International Paper) services (TELECOM, NZ RAIL etc) media (Murdoch and O’Reilly etc) which allows super-profits to be repatriated overseas, NZ is faced with high trade barriers.

A good example is the barrier to NZ lamb going to the US. The US has force NZ to totally remove subsidies from farming, yet it subsidises its own farming industry which is inefficient to buy farmers politically conservative (land-owners often are) votes. Farmers are therefore quite a significant support for the ruling class’ so-called democracy.

A second example is the barriers put up against NZ timber going into Japan. When the Asian markets crashed, and the commodity price for timber fell the Japanese protected their own timber plantations by putting a tariff on any imported timber. This clearly shows the major economies of APEC protecting their own inefficient primary production at the cost of a weak semi-colony.

A more recent development is the push by US based TNCs to break up of the NZ Dairy Board. The object is to bring key primary produce export industries to even more under their direct ownership and control (as is already the case in the ownership of Meat and Timber industries).

Dairy industry

Dairy cooperatives are under pressure from world capitalism. The interests of international capital would like to reap a super-profit from this highly efficient industry. They want to buy up sections of the dairy cooperatives and turn them into fully capitalist enterprises. That means they will run them for the TNC owners profits and not for the working farmers shareholders who get a return on the value produced by their own labour.

The industry in NZ has been undergoing a process of concentration of capital into larger and larger cooperatives. We call for a defence of the “cooperative” ownership structure in the dairy industry. Where the cooperatives are growing, working farmers need to fight for the democratising of the cooperatives. The interests of the (smaller) working farmers are being overtaken by those of the larger scale corporate capitalist owners. This means farm managers, share-milkers and labourers are set up to become exploited as cheap labour.


Some of the capitalist class of semi-colonies like NZ may be under threat from foreign capitalists. This may appear to temporarily align their interests with the interests of workers in opposing imperialism. Some layers of workers and capitalists are attracted to a strategy of economic nationalism or protectionism especially as this appeared to work in the interests of workers during the post-war boom.

But this is a deadly trap as national capitalists are unable to survive in the globalised economy without super-exploiting their workers also.

Therefore, despite an apparent common interest in opposing imperialism especially against trade barriers and military attacks, workers need to organise separately, because even while our immediate interests may temporarily coincide, our class interests demand the overthrow of capitalist property relations at home.

Some layers of workers have interests that coincide with the interests of national capitalists in a destructive way. For example, the workers who supply the US and its allies with arms and weapons. Their immediate interests are with the US as global “police” / war-mongers. However their long-term class interests are not.

A recent local (NZ) example of this was the Engineers Union. The executive (bureaucratised leaders) of the Engineers Union wanted the “ANZAC” frigates project. Why? – because they wanted their members to build the frigates. As long as they are paid, and collect union dues, nothing else really matters. They don’t mind wasting labour, on building floating targets/tombs for the NZ state forces to sit in. The last edition of “Metal” celebrated the growth of jobs (from 120 to 300+) at “Safe Air”, a branch of Air New Zealand. The EU proudly (on the front page) declares that the company as taken over the NZ Air Force maintenance team and contracts. They are proud to be servicing the military of the Asia-Pacific region, Philippines and Australia.

Many workers would be happier if they were building anything other than weapons, but work because they need a wage to survive. Other privileged workers would fight for their owners, to defend their wage-slavery and privilege. At the core of the issue is class. The working class is made up of workers because we need to work in order to survive. If we happened to live in a privileged nation state, our lifestyle may be more comfortable. However privilege cannot stop the capitalist economic crisis hurting us also.

Workers internationalism

We are for the construction of international trade unions. Not just at the level of agreements between union leaders, but also at the membership level. Members would need to fight in their unions for the programme of international unions to take up a progressive struggle.

This will be seen to differ from the programmes drawn up by bureaucratic leaders. The bureaucrats only motive is to try to defend the jobs of their current members, since these members are the source of their salary.

Current international agreements are often based in an imperialist nation or on a privileged (comparatively) workforce. Union leaders are too slow in considering expanding to cover other nations who could be a source of either cheaper labour, or if it came down to class struggle with the bosses, a source of scab labour for the bosses. Workers need to recruit these workers to unionism before the bosses can divide workers and continue to rule with ease.

Trade unions members have an interest in recruiting workers to unions, and building their awareness that our only strength as workers is our ability to take united action. Through truly international unions we can build workers solidarity.

International unions could defend workers jobs by fighting for equal wages and conditions across international borders. This could organise workers in semi-colonies, against super-exploitation by international capitalists. This would begin to improve the wages and conditions of workers in the semi-colonies. At the same time as proving the strength of workers united organisation.

Following from the above progressive moves, it becomes clear why we need to fight against barriers to workers migration. Since international unions would create the opportunities for workers to travel and work with much more protection than migrant workers get at present. This would also allow the spread of workers education in union principles across an international workforce.

The whole thrust would be for the building of worker solidarity, raising labour rights, organising non-union workers and the growth of healthy international trade unionism.

An example is the Seafarers Union. The Seafarers response to the threat of international competition on the seas was to align their interests with the nation state and the stronger Australian union. In NZ they were protected against competition on internal shipping routes through NZ state law. Internationally they had signed an agreement with their Australian counterparts (the MUA- Maritime Union of Australia) protecting trans -Tasman shipping routes.

The above were defensive, protective deals. They show that the trade unions are at most “reformist”, trying to reform capitalism for their self-protection. This puts them onto the parliamentary reformist path, where they place their hopes in a new (Labour oriented) government changing the shipping rules.

Protectionist deals are no match for the already global capitalist organisations (the bosses class). What is needed is an international view, which only a truly international organisation can build, and even this would need the revolutionary communist method of Marx.

Fletchers paper mills

Lets take a look at how workers might collaborate internationally within a TNC. Fletcher Challenge was seen as NZ’s main TNC (it is now half-owned offshore). Fletchers has had major strikes and lockouts of paper mill workers in a number of countries. However they have been able to continue production by isolating the industrial dispute to one country. For example the mills in Canada were out but the NZ mills carried on running. Internationally pulp and paper workers were not organised beyond appeals for financial support. If they had taken strike action at the same time, in solidarity, them they would have shown their united strength.

For workers control of all branches of TNCs!

From Class Struggle No 27 May-June 1999

Written by raved

August 26, 2007 at 11:01 pm