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

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May 1! Solidarity with US Migrant Workers!

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On this May Day, 2006 we recognise and honour the struggles of oppressed people everywhere. We must take as our own the cause all those of the Iraqi resistance, the Palestinean people, the French youth, the Nepalese masses, the Bolivian workers and peasants, among many others. All of these struggles are fighting the same global capitalist system faced by the US migrant workers who are calling for international action in support of their national stoppage on May 1. In many ways, these struggles will all be represented as one global class, one global fight, on May Day when the US migrant workers are calling for global solidarity against all US Corporations around the world!

Years of subordination to “their” imperialistic state has almost ended any internationalist consciousness in the US working class. For this reason the US workers celebrate their ‘Labour Day’ in September not on May 1st like the rest of the world. Nevertheless, May 1st for the worlds workers marks the commemoration of the “Martyrs of Chicago”, executed because they struggled for the 8 hour day in 1886. They were martyrs to the cause which has since been won by workers in many countries only by more strikes, mobilizations, actions and skirmishes with the police.

Now, the coalition of workers organizations, immigrants and anti-war groups have formed a movement against the reactionary law that seeks to criminalise migrant workers. They have called a “National Strike of Immigrants” for 1st May to prove that migrant workers do not ‘ruin’ the economy, but actually ‘run’ the economy, contributing billions of dollars more than they cost in welfare payments etc.

The undocumented workers have said “enough is enough” to the deaths at the hands of the border police and the “patriotic” para-military gangs that patrol the borders to defend their “American way of life”. Enough deaths in containers and trucks trafficked by dealers in human carcases with the complicity of governors and politicians. Enough of dying of hunger and dehydration in the desert.

They have said “enough!” to the discrimination that locks the undocumented workers out of the hospitals, the schools, and the right to be exploited “normally” like the rest of the workers. Enough of the wage slavery that allows employers to profit from their lack of rights.

The struggle of the migrants has aroused sympathy and support among the whole US working class as they joined with migrant workers in their massive marches and demonstrations in the last weeks. On April 10 another massive demonstration showed that the movement is growing.

The May 1st nationwide strike has adopted the slogans of “no work, no shopping, no school”, in an effort to mobilise many of the immigrants, legal and illegal. The call has also gone out to all those who support them to boycott all US corporations and their products in the whole of Latin America and the world.

This call must be taken up by all the rank and file of all workers organisations base and political parties that claim to be part of the working class to make May 1st a true international workers day! We must renew the demands of the the Million Worker march of December 1, sabotaged by the union officials.

  • Strike for the unconditional legalization of all the illegal immigrants! 
  • Smash all “anti-terrorist” persecution of immigrants! Oppose War, Racism and Poverty! 
  • Decent work for all! Free Public health, education and housing!

“We are America”, “We are those that you made walk to the U.S.A.”

Millions of protesters for weeks during March took to the streets in many US cities with placards carrying the above slogans, against the new law to criminalise migrants that is being debated in both Houses of Congress which is designed to control and to discipline the flow of migrants in the reserve army so it can be turned on the fill the available menial jobs, and turned off when the labour market is full with sacked workers from the closure of scores of plants and thousands of dismissals such as in the auto industry. Its purpose to keep an oversupply of labor necessary to ‘lower labour costs’ and so boost the falling rate of profit of US corporations to the level they can earn in low wage countries such as China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc.

Such workers are prevented from demanding decent wages, hours and conditions because they can be fired and replaced immediately without the wages due to them. The US imperialist state is so cynical it has recruited thousands of illegal immigrants in the armed forces to go to Afghanistan and Iraq in return for the promise of citizenship on their return. Recently Bush made a public relations event where he ‘granted’ in a ‘special act of grace’ citizenship to the families of soldiers who had been killed in the ‘war on terror’.

Added to the 12 million illegal migrants, are the “legalized” migrants and their families numbering about 24 million (around 12% of the population of the country), whose status is always subject to revision, thanks to the anti-terrorist laws,and other laws such as anti-strike laws, anti-union laws which can be used to ‘criminalize’ workers. The current law under consideration proposes to make it easier to revoke the ‘legal’ status and to deport workers (as in France). This law would hit “legal” Latino and Caribbean workers who are currently the majority in unionised workplaces, especially in the South, the West Coast and in New York, such as the dockworkers, food packers, processors and freezers of chickens, truck drivers, doormen, transit workers (as in New York), etc.

Many of these ‘legals’ came out on the marches because they could see that the attack on the ‘illegals’ is also an attack on them. Even the ‘middle class’ recognized that the attack on the immigrants was not about ‘race’ or ‘ethnicity’ but about class, because “we are workers, one and all”. The strength of the demonstrations forced the mass media to take notice, if only to give most air time to interviews with vigilantes (“the Minutemen”) who “take care of the borders”, beating, maiming, and even killing those who try to come to the US to find a a job that allows them and their families to eat.

The revolutionary struggle of the Latin American masses arrives at the heart of Yankee imperialism!

In Latin America today there are great anti-imperialist struggles that have overthown the governments of the client state of imperialism, notably the revolutions in Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia. While these revolutions have been diverted and tied up in dog collars by the Popular Front governments in those countries, they have nonetheless opened up a revolutionary road that goes to the heart of the US imperialist state.

It was these struggles, along with the Iraqi resistance, and the attacks on them at home, that forced the US working class to wake up from its American ‘dream’, and embark on a series of steps such as the Million Worker March; to condemn the Patriotic law; the war in Iraq; the war against jobs, health, education and housing at home; and more than anything, to express their anger at the disaster of Hurricane Katrina caused by US capitalism. This growing outrage resulted in the December 1 strike “against the war, poverty and racism”. It was such a threat to the ruling class that it was sabotaged by the Democratic Party. To add to this growing momentum of class struggle, the revolutionary struggles of the Latin American masses has spread into the USA through the Latino immigrants who refuse to be treated as criminals as well as slaves.

Today, US migrants are entering the fight alongside the heroic Bolivian workers and farmers who have brought down three governments; the Ecuadorian masses that have overturned four governments; the hard fights of the masses who have many times stood up against the “progressive” governments praised by World Social Forum and Fidel Castro in Argentina, in Chile, in Peru; the mobilizations in Central America against the Free Trade Agreements; the Mexican protests against the killings on the border and the eviction of farmers from their land; and the ground-swell of workers opposition to Chávez’ “Bolivarian Revolution” that threatens to strangle the revolution in Venezuela.

The great uprising of the US migrants has so far survived the attempts by the church, the NGOs, the union bureaucracy and the fake Trotskyists, to divert and contain it. Within weeks it has become a massive challenge to the Government. The determination of the migrants is strong but to defeat the Government the struggle has to become taken up by the whole working class, migrant and non-migrant, ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’. It must become part of the same struggle to end the war against Iraq and US imperialist attacks on the Latin American masses!

But the dangers of diversion and containment are real. So far the leaders of the movement have directed its force against the corporate owners and the Democratic party in an effort to get the Democratic members of congress to vote against the proposed law. In Washington, the marchers surrounded the Capitol and celebrated a ‘victory’ even while the Senate was voting to make them ‘outlaws’! Of course, this is to be expected from the Catholic Church and the NGOs who led the protest.

But much more shameful were the actions of the union officials and parties of the ‘left’ including the fake Trotskyists. None of them demanded that all workers, regardless of their union or lack of union, legal or illegal, daily workers or contract workers, victims of Katrina, those engaged in strike actions, or protesting the war etc., should unite to fight!

But again this does not surprise us. They sabotaged the nationwide strike on December 1 last year; the Transit strike in New York was left isolated –not only by the bureaucrats but by the “revolutionary” groups of the World Social Forum. Many other disputes such as Delta Airlines, Eastern Airlines, the auto workers at Delphi, General Motors, Ford, etc. remain isolated. So it is to be expected that they will leave the struggle of the migrants in the reactionary hands of the Church, and reformists and pacifists of the NGOs.

And of course, not a single voice of these traitors has been raised in Mexico and the rest of Latin America to organize a massive struggle across the whole continent in support to the immigrants in the U.S.A. who are members of the same class! Nor to unite the struggle in Latin America and the Caribbean against the exploitation and plundering of imperialism and the FTAA, CAFTA, the IMF, etc!

How is it possible to fight the war in Iraq without also fighting for the rights of immigrants? A fight to legalize migrants and open the borders for all workers in need, would be a fatal blow to the war on terror, and to the US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, because for one thing, it would release those immigrants who are forced to go to fight to get their citizenship.

Enough of the treacherous politics of the bureaucrats and reformists, who play the game of the bourgeoisie who threaten a tsunami so that the workers can live with a hurricane!

The result of so far is that this so-called “victory” has not shaken the Republicrat regime or big business. It continues to press ahead with criminalisation of those who employ or aid immigrants, enlists many more agents as migrant police with new detection technology, and continues to build the border wall between Mexico and the U.S.A.

But what is more perverse is that they are quite open in allowing a large proportion of illegals to be legalised to work for 5 years provided they do not leave their jobs and get no complaints from their bosses. Any breaches of these slave labor conditions, such as joining a union, will allow them to be deported. If they are ‘model’ workers for 11 years they can apply for a ‘green card’ and residence.

In other words this is a ‘slave charter’ for migrant workers. This creates a new non-unionised workforce able to scab on the workers in the airlinies, GM, Delphi etc who try to fight against the use of the Bankruptcy laws by their bosses with the complicity of the union officials, to cancel their agreements and force them to retire on reduced pensions or face wage cuts of two-thirds.

Many of these plants are being closed and transferred to Latin America, China and other countries of Asia. But the ‘transplants’ of Asian automakers like Toyota in the US are non-unionised, so US automakers will try to use the migrant reserve army to work in any new plants they build for the same low wages, with no social benefits union rights or labour protection.

The bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO and ‘Change to Win’ (the new supposedly “progressive” bureaucracy) as well as many of the ‘left’ cannot mobilise a united fight against the new migrant laws because they concentrate their attack on the Republicans instead of mobilising a movement independent of both the union bureaucracies and both bourgeois parties. In so doing they play into the hands of the ruling class that fears the emergence of a radical militant labor movement that mobilises its power in the workplace to challenge the class rule of the US imperialist regime.

At the same time, the ruling class is trying to capitalise on the fear of migrant workers in the labor aristocracy and the petty bourgeosie to create a social base for a fascist movement to smash any future radical militant movement in the working class. This is why it is Homeland Security that is attacking illegal aliens as “unpatriotic” (waving Mexican flags!) and potential “terrorists”. That is, they plan to recruit the racist, nationalist divisions that have always been used to isolate and smash the militant sections of the US working class, which when aligned with the growing anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggles of the Latin American masses, would become an unstoppable force.

  • For the legalization of all immigrants! 
  • Open borders for all those that want to work in the U.S.A. and any country of the planet! 
  • The struggle of immigrants in the U.S.A. is the same as immigrants in Argentina, in Europe, in Australia and everywhere, for work, education, housing, health, and all other rights!  
  • Unite the proletariat of North, Central and South America! 
  • Down with the union bureaucracies and the treacherous leaders of all kinds, organised in the World Social Forum, that keeps the proletariat subservient to the national bourgeoisies and imperialism!

There is nothing, apart from the treacherous leaders, that stops the unity of the struggles of North, Central and South American workers. These struggles are against the same class enemy trying to smash almost two centuries of workers struggles to impose new defeats and reduce wages and rights to the same level as the reserve army of cheap labor in Asia.

The oppression and super-exploitation of workers in the oppressed nations gives imperialism more power to defeat its own workers at home. Just as the Latin American struggles have strengthened the re-awakening of layers of the US working class, a strong campaign of US workers against the Republicrat regime, halting the ruling class offensive on its rights and conditions, against the anti-terrorist laws, for open borders, for the democratic organization of the unions, for the defense of the victims of the Katrina, for the defeat of the imperialist army in Iraq and Afghanistan), for the popular uprisings in Latin America, and for the young workers and students in France, etc., would give a huge impulse to the struggles in Latin America.

To make this happen we have to defeat the union bureaucracies – the ‘labor lieutenants’ of the bourgeoisie in the ranks of the working class. We have to defeat all the treacherous leaderships grouped in and around the World Social Forum. They perform a vital service for imperialism by organising a continental-wide Popular Front to contain and defeat these struggles, by dividing, isolating and subordinating the revolutionary energy of the workers, the students, the immigrants, the oppressed sectors, to the Democratic Party, the Greens, Fidel Castro, Chavez etc. separating them sector by sector (employed versus unemployed, casual versus career, young versus adult, “national” versus “foreign”, union from union, workplace from workplace, country by country).

We need a revolutionary leadership in the unions fighting for a workers’ program in defense of the work, housing, education and health. We need an action plan against the attacks of the bourgeoisie, for the proletarian leadership of the anti-imperialist struggles and for open borders. It is vital that North American workers understand that their fate is bound to the exploited masses of Latin America and the world. To make this possible we must build, in North America as in Latin America, an internationalist, Leninist-Trotskyist revolutionary combat party, a section of a new Trotskyist International.

Unite the fight from Alaska to Terra del Fuego!

For an internationalist struggle against the treacherous leaders to give the working class of the continent the leadership that it deserves!

Fraction Leninist-Trotskyist April 2006 Translated from the Spanish

From Class Struggle 66 April/May 2006

Australian Green Left Roots

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In Class Struggle # 60 we criticised the Australian Democratic Socialist Perspectives’ cheerleading for Chavez. We print a rejoinder by one of its members and our reply [see ‘Venezuela and the Cuban Road to Socialism’.]  As we point out the DSP is aligned to the Castroites who are influential in the World Social Forum and play a treacherous role in the mass struggles in Latin America (see next post on Bolivia in this issue). It also has some influence on some reformist currents in Aotearoa/NZ, and may be the model for a future ‘socialist alliance’ between between the SWO and Matt McCarten. To expose the treacherous role of this organisation today we print here a short history of the DSP by the Communist Left of Australia which traces its degeneration from a self-declared Trotskyist group in the 1960s to its present pro-Stalinist, pro-Castroist position as the ‘Democratic Socialist Perspectives’ inside the Australian Socialist Alliance. It is a sorry tale.

Origins in the ‘Fourth International’

The origins of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia go right back to a split in the post-war self-claimed ‘Fourth International’ between the majority United Secretariat, and those who supported Michel Pablo known as the International Marxist Tendency. In Australia the majority led by Nick Origlass, supported the IMT. The Australian United Secretariat supporters led by Bob Gould and Ian MacDougall split in 1965 and put out the magazine called Socialist Perspectives.

Whilst there was an organisational break with Pablo over political questions, both groupings had the same fundamental methodology. In Pablo’s ‘new world reality’ history was seen as an inevitible process that would revolutionise reformist, stalinist and even bourgeois nationalist parties. Therefore both sides of this split no longer saw the need to build independent Trotskyist parties.

Both groupings were thoroughly loyal to the Australian Labor Party (ALP) practicing long term entry work (deep entrism). John and Jim Percy, foundation leaders of the Democratic Socialist Party, were then Sydney University campus radicals in the Labor Club. They were recruited by those who produced Socialist Perspectives. Eventually they were to win ideological hegemony over the Sydney University Labor club.

The grouping around Socialist Perspectives, founded the Campaign for Nuclear disarmament which became the Vietnam Action Committee when Australia entered the Vietnam War. Its leader was Bob Gould. For the next few years a number of youth and student fronts were formed centred around their bookshop, the ‘Third World Bookshop’, which became an activist centre.

Inside this group there were differences over organisation. The Percy brothers were known for their belief in strong centralised organisation. On the other hand, the ‘New Leftists’ very influential at the time, opposed organisation, equating it with bureaucracy. New left meetings were often chaotic and bureaucratic (lacking structure certain stronger members tended to dominate). The older Trotskyists (MacDougall and Gould) were fearful that a more defined organisation would threaten their long-term entryism in the ALP.

Their youth group Resistance became very successful, organising high school students against the war and the Student Underground. During 1968 there was a significant growth in activity and membership. They also received a degree of notoriety because of their support for the NLF in Vietnam and with their booklet How Not to Join the Army. The ‘Third World Bookshop’ was raided by the police.

A number of splits occurred over organisational issues. The most significant of these being in 1970 was with Bob Gould who opposed Resistance being defined by political demands. Gould split away taking with him about one third of the membership. Both supported protest movements and an orientation to the Labor Party. The real difference was priority. This is shown by their support for Bob Gould as Socialist Left delegate to the 1971 Federal ALP Conference. In NSW the Percy group won hegemonic control over the Socialist Left within the Labor Party which never grew (in NSW) significantly beyond the radical left.

Bob Gould claimed the Third World Bookshop as his property because he was the legal owner and put in more money than others. The Percy majority pointed out that the Third World Bookshop was established as a bookshop for Resistance and Bob was in the minority. Within six months, Gould had lost most of his supporters to the variant of the so-called “Fourth International” called the International Committee led internationally by Gerry Healy.

Out of all this the Percy grouping renamed itself as the Socialist Youth Alliance and emerged as politically coherent with a strong organisational framework. They then formed the Socialist Workers League. They published a colourful and strident newspaper called Direct Action. Each issue came out in a different colour. They had the full support of the Socialist Workers Party of the US (SWP-US). John Percy had been to the USA. Barry Shepherd SWP-US leader had visited Australia. Allen Myers, an antiwar GI, migrated to Australia and joined their ranks.

Vietnam War

Now being fully aligned with the SWP-US, they took on its theoretical heritage, such as Cuba being considered a healthy workers state. The SWP-US was an ex-Trotskyist party in total degeneration. It adapted to bourgeois liberalism in the anti-war movement and Castroism in Cuba. Castro, they argued was an ‘unconscious Trotskyist’.

The priority of SYA became the Moratorium against the Vietnam War. They fought for a coherent single-issue one-point programme: ‘Out Now!’ They opposed calls for ‘peace’ or ‘negotiations’. They opposed the Moratorium being based around support for the National Liberation Front.

They opposed any orientation to draft resistance or against conscription. They opposed the slogan “stop work to stop the war” arguing that this underestimated the strength of the protest movement. They supported strong centralised and regular marches and opposed decentralised ones. They opposed the Vietnam Moratorium becoming multi-issue.

Their opposition to the ‘solidarity with the NLF’ slogan came from both the right and left. For revolutionaries, the point of internationalist solidarity is to sharpen the struggle against ‘ones own’ country by calling for its military defeat. This the SYA didn’t do. They deliberately avoided taking a military stand in what was an imperialist war with the conscious purpose of mobilising as broadly as possible. According to SYA ‘theory’, which they still agree with today, the might of numbers i.e. public opinion, forces governments to act. This they counter-posed to direct action by the working class. Their strategy amounted to populism and public opinion. Bourgeois forces were welcomed as part of the mass movement. This apparently was “their contradiction and not ours”.

They sounded left when they opposed the strategy of the Vietcong, correctly identifying this strategy as stalinist. They made the link between Stalin’s theory of socialism in one country and the NLF call for peace talks. Of course class struggle anti-imperialist solidarity must mean a break from Stalinism. But the SYA opposed identification with Stalinism as it might scare off bourgeois liberal antiwar opponents and narrow the movement. This is a right wing opposition to the ‘solidarity with the NLF’ demand. They have since changed their analysis and now consider the NLF to be Leninists who pursued a revolutionary strategy.
From class struggle to protest politics

SYA adhered to the theory of neo-capitalism. According to this theory capitalist crises are over, and issues such as alienation were now more relevant in creating a revolutionary dynamic. In the late ‘sixties and early ‘seventies in prosperous Australia, radical middle class people were concerned about many ‘quality of life’ issues. SYA were active around issues such as high school students’ rights, the environment, women’s liberation, gay liberation, anti-racism, anti-censorship etc.

In all these issues they pursued the same method — mass action around single-issue demands. They were, seen as conservatives, especially during the mass movement against the South African racist Springbok rugby tour. Virtually everyone else involved supported physical disruption of that tour.

In short, SYA were a Labor Party loyal league with a minimalist programme oriented to radical middle class protest politics.

In 1972, the economic crisis hit. Class issues came to the forefront. The Liberals moved some reactionary anti-working class legislation known as the ‘Lynch Laws’ bringing about an upsurge of militancy in the metal industry, the ‘movement for workers control’. This resistance continued after the Whitlam-led ALP was elected in November ’72. During this upsurge of working class struggle the SWL were basically irrelevant. A group of Ernest Mandel supporters left its ranks no doubt itching to get involved in class struggle as opposed to student protests. They constituted themselves as the Communist League.

Communist League

A key issue in the split was what attitude to take to the ALP. In his recently published book John Percy has suggested that the difference was merely a tactical one of formulating their critical support. However if one reads SWL leader Jim McIlroy in his commentary on the 1974 Federal election, it is very clear that the SWL considered voting Labor to be a matter of principle, as opposed to tactics, since Labor was the working class party to be supported despite its leadership.

During the Whitlam years the SWL may have abstained from the militant working class struggle, but there was plenty of student and mass movement activism for them to build their league. They formed the Women’s Abortion Action Campaign, a single issue campaign. They were prominent in defending the Palestinians in resolutions debated within the Australian Union of Students. They recruited some from the Communist Party of Australia – Dr Gordon Adler being the most prominent. But basically, they consolidated their organisation. In the climate of militancy during that period they were considered conservatives within the left. The Communist League described their paper as ‘The Women’s Weekly of the Australian revolutionary left’.

They entered into many significant debates with the CPA Stalinists on international issues such as Chile, Portugal and Vietnam.

The 1975 Federal Election saw them stand candidates for the first time. They have stood in almost every election since. Previously they were known to have opposed standing for parliament on principle, arguing that it was a barrier to their fight against the Labor leadership. The ’75 election occurred after the sacking of Whitlam by governor General Sir John Kerr and his replacement with an interim Fraser government. Working class militancy and anger was immense. The left were extremely active. Of all the left groups the SWL was the least involved with the justifiable anger felt within the working class. They made a splash with prominent and colourful posters around protest issues (Women’s, gay and black rights) calling for a Labor government pledged to socialist policies. This, in a situation were a revolutionary general strike was being seriously and widely demanded.

In February ’76 they renamed themselves the Socialist Workers Party. Of course this spelt out that they were to have a prominent presence outside the ALP. But they were still liquidationist. A few years later Bob Gould was to point out that ‘supporters of Direct Action were virtually indistinguishable from the official Left in NSW Young Labor, the Radical Leadership Group’. Gould at least had a faction which demanded ‘socialist policies’ (of the reformist variety). The RLG and therefore ‘supporters of Direct Action’ did not!
‘Turn to the workers’

As with their US comrades, the 1976 conference announced a ‘turn to the working class’ They argued that this is necessary due to intensified class struggle. There was no objective reason the turn to the working class was any more warranted in ‘76 as it was in ‘73 or ‘74. In fact the working class of ‘76 was more on the defensive. But the Australians turned basically out of loyalty to the US SWP.

By renaming themselves as a party and their turn to the working class, the SWP did form a sort of pole of attraction among sections of the far left. They won over some former members of the syndicalist Melbourne Revolutionary Marxists and some former CPA members. They were on the road to winning back those who split to form the Communist League which was seen to be failing in its efforts to build an organisation,

They were still strongly involved in protest politics. In the Timor Moratorium movement and the anti-uranium movement they intervened as they did against the Vietnam War. They had a single-issue broad populist approach. From these movements they recruited. But they didn’t recruit from the movement for civil liberties in Queensland. They opposed marching for the ‘right to march’ because it was against the law even when large sections of the labor bureaucracy were marching. Once again they were considered conservatives on the left.

The turn to the working class was unsuccessful in terms of results for effort. The ex-student radicals joined the unions to form rank-and-file oppositions. While a few militants were won the class composition did not significantly change. And in no union were they a serious left pole of attraction. On the whole they opposed economic protectionism but sometimes made opportunist adaptations to link up with militants who were protectionist (Victorian Builders’ Union for example). In Wollongong they were controversial for standing against the official rank and file dominated by the CPA. For this they got a hostile reception and were disowned by almost the whole of the Wollongong left.

But they did have some ideological influence on the left. This resulted from the CPA Stalinists rabid turn to the right. In the major unions where the CPA had significant influence, the perspective of workers control of the early ‘seventies was replaced by overt class collaborationist protectionism. The CPA promoted all sorts of ‘Peoples’ Economic Programmes’ (PEP) basically to get the government to ‘save manufacturing’. The logic of this was the selling-out of class struggle, as the bureaucrats did with the Prices and Incomes Accord which they negotiated before Bob Hawke came to power.

The SWP was a pole of attraction because they were the most prominent opponents of the stalinist social patriotic schemas promoted by the “left” union bureaucrats, supported by large sections of the rank and file and sections of the academic left. However the SWP had an analysis which did not correspond to the reality of Australian capitalism. For the SWP, there was no fundamental restructuring away from manufacturing to mining nor any significant intervention by foreign capital. The reality was that during the ‘seventies, ‘eighties and ‘nineties whole sections of manufacturing collapsed, including shipbuilding, the car industry, white goods and the BHP steelworks in Newcastle. In short, because of their failure to understand the dynamics of Australian capitalism, their heartfelt desire to oppose both protectionism and class collaboration lacked credibility, especially in the eyes of trade union militants.

The Communist League shared a roughly similar analysis and there was joint work in opposition to the PEP. This facilitated their reunification. The Communist League were instructed to rejoin by leaders of the United Secretariat such as Ernest Mandel.

The formal break with Trotskyism

Subjective revolutionaries joined the SWP because they perceived the need for a numerically strong party which identified with Trotskyism (irrespective of its flaws). Many were purged by the Percy leadership whose lesson from their previous CL experience was to deal with potential troublemakers. But some remained as members. But what these leftists were joining was a party collapsing into Stalinism at a rapid rate of knots. With every crisis of Stalinism that occurred during the next twenty years, the SWP took one step further in a Stalinist direction.

In 1979 there was a third Indochina war when Vietnam invaded Pol Pot’s Kampuchea and China invaded Vietnam. The SWP justified their pro-Vietnamese line by suddenly discovering that Kampuchea under the Khmer Rouge was ‘state capitalist’. This convenient analysis meant they were not seen as endorsing an invasion of one post-capitalist state by another. But in no way did it square with reality. The ‘capitalist’ Khmer Rouge had even abolished money!

When the Soviet Union sent troops to Afghanistan, they endorsed the invasion more enthusiastically than their US comrades.

SWP Australia was formed in solidarity with SWP-US and therefore considered Cuba a healthy workers state. But on the whole Cuba had been a low priority for the Australian comrades. With the victory of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, this was to change. The SWP Australia became their uncritical cheerleaders. The popular governments in Nicaragua and Grenada were hailed for ‘following the Cuban road’. They defended the Sandinistas maintenance of capitalism and their repression of the revisionist Trotskyist Simon Bolivar Brigade.

The SWP-US was also enthusiastic, uncritically hailing these revolutions and their leaderships. They also made a reassessment of Trotskyism, consciously breaking from it. But the Australian SWP went even further along the Stalinist road than the North Americans did.

For the Australian SWP, Castro was not an ‘unconsciousness Trotskyist’ but a ‘conscious Leninist’. Trotskyism, they now argued, was a sectarian deviation from Leninism. They repeated the Stalinist slander that Trotsky ‘underestimated the peasantry’. Basically they were arguing for a Stalinist strategy for the third world. One leading SWP member at their Social Rights Conference argued that if Trotsky’s line had been pursued, the Chinese revolution would never have been won!

The Australian SWP then reassessed their analysis of the Vietnamese revolution. The Vietnamese Stalinists too became ‘conscious Leninists’. In doing this they stabbed in the back the very significant Trotskyist movement that had a strong base amongst the Vietnamese proletariat. They rehashed the same Stalinist slanders which they had refuted when argued by Denis Freney, the notorious Pabloite who became a Stalinist. They have since established friendly relations with the Vietnamese Workers’ Party and invite speakers from the Vietnamese Embassy to their conferences.

Of course this blatant turn to Stalinism led to a break not only from the SWP-US, but from the United Secretariat which they considered a roadblock to their efforts to regroup third world Stalinists. Here there is a clear logic. If the Sandinistas, Castroites etc. are revolutionary, then why have a Fourth International? Mandel and Co could not junk the old Trotskyism, or rather identification with Trotsky, so easily. So the SWP liquidated the fundamental class line between Trotskyism and Stalinism. As a result of this international break, Australian supporters of the United Secretariat and of Sean Matgamna (now called Workers Liberty) left the SWP.

Bloc with Stalinist Socialist Party of Australia

Internationally the SWP was pursuing alliances with left Stalinists. In Australia, they looked for an alliance with the pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia (now called Communist Party of Australia). There was no way that the SPA would abandon support for Stalin, nor the ruling bureaucracy in the Soviet Union or Poland (the SWP supported Solidarnosc), but there was some basis for unity.

The organisation called CPA at the time was heading to the right rapidly. And many SPA trade union officials were joining in. The logic of CPA strategy was to make an alliance with the Hawke government called the Prices and Incomes Accord. Under the Accord workers sacrificed wages and conditions in exchange for minor reforms which workers would normally expect from a Labor government anyway. The Accord divided the Australian left but the only official to have opposed it openly was Jenny Haines, a supporter of Bob Gould. But it was SPA policy to oppose the Accord.

The SPA stood by its principles and expelled the overwhelming majority of its trade union base, including prominent party leaders. They lost not only one third of their membership, but the significant membership in terms of trade union influence. Making an alliance with the SWP gave them a bit more clout and assisted their influence amongst young people. The SWP gained some contact with unionists. Their joint efforts meant more effective election campaigns.

Their main campaign was the Social Rights Manifesto. The title speaks for itself. Rights is a bourgeois concept and their Manifesto was for rights under capitalism. What this showed was that in terms of the Australian situation, the SWP and SPA had approximately the same minimum programme. The SWP called their demands ‘transitional’ and argued that the process was continuing. SPA called the Manifesto the first stage of their two stage revolution.

The SWP and SPA were also allies in the peace movement. Both opposed the right stalinist and liberal bourgeois view that ‘both superpowers’ were responsible for the arms race. SWP and SPA put the blame on imperialism and were clearly better in their variant of the popular front. Eventually there was a division of labour with the right Stalinists organising Palm Sunday, and SWP/SPA running the Hiroshima Day protests. Of these two the right popular front was the more popular.

All this stalinist maneuvering was too much for the SWP-US who formed a faction in Australia which were then expelled (forming another Communist League). This faction included former leaders Nita Keig, Deb Schnookal and Dave Deutschmann. In the US the Australian SWP had the support of former SWP-US presidential candidate Pedro Camejo. In the USA, John Percy and Pedro Camejo supported the presidential campaign of US Democrat Jesse Jackson and the protest campaign to freeze nuclear weapons.

The SWP-US and its supporters also objected to the Australian SWP’s support for cold war right wingers at Polish solidarity rallies and its support for a Croatian nationalist organisation known as the Croatian Movement for Statehood (HDP).

Was HDP a former fascist Croatian organisation moving to the left or an adaptation by the fascists to co-opt the left? Either way it was unsupportable. The HDP, even with its left face, recognised the fascist government of Pavlevic whose dictatorship was backed by Mussolini during the Second World War. This fact alone made it thoroughly unprincipled, in fact treacherous, for revolutionaries to give it any positive recognition irrespective of its left rhetoric, genuine or otherwise.

The Hawke Government went to the right and started attacking unions. In response there was a national rank and file movement called Fightback which the SWP was active in. Fightback split into two wings. Some known as Canberra fightback, wanted it to remain a rank-and-file caucus. The SWP and SPA alliance, joined by the Maoist CPA(ML) wanted to turn it into a new communist party.

The Maoist-led Builders Labourers Federation was under attack by the Hawke Government at the Federal level, and by the Cain Labor government in Victoria which authorised an armed police raid on its offices. Legislation aimed at the BLF was a serious threat to organised militant unionism in Victoria. So the Maoists were now hard left when it came to opposing Labor. The pro-Accord Stalinists stabbed the BLF in the back, refusing to defend it from a capitalist state attack, in fact often endorsing the attack!

Understandably there was strong hostility amongst militants towards Labor. The SWP opposition to Labor also intensified. In 1987 they even endorsed the bourgeois Australian Democrats. They argued that whilst the Democrats were a bourgeois party, they supported progressive movements and were to the left of Labor on social services and welfare issues, and could be given critical support. At the same time the Greens were growing rapidly. So the name of the SWP paper Direct Action was changed to Green Left Weekly.

The Gorbachev liberal bureaucratic leadership of the Soviet Union led to another turn by the SWP — towards the Gorbachev leadership. As the Soviet Union degenerated rapidly, the SWP made all sorts of alliances with liberalised Stalinists. Devoid of any Marxist analysis they took their democratic credentials at face value oblivious at any threat of counter-revolution. They have close ties with East Germany’s former ruling party, the PDS. In the spirit of democratic socialism, they changed their name to Democratic Socialist Party.

Meanwhile the SPA was going in the opposite direction. They wanted to hang onto as much of the Breshnevite past as possible. So there was a strain on the alliance. The SPA was then oriented to the Chinese leadership. The bloodshed of Tienamin Square, supported by SPA but opposed by DSP, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The alliance was over.

The DSP then oriented to the fast degenerating Communist Party of Australia who were aiming to develop a new party in what was called the ‘New Left Party Process’. The CPA were reassessing the Accord but hadn’t broken from it. But the CPA did not reciprocate the DSP’s advances, and chose to degenerate in alliance with old pro-Accord ex-SPA bureaucrats. The DSP has tried to fill the vacuum left by the CPA degeneration.

Socialist Alliance

The most recent party building maneuver has been the Socialist Alliance formed similar to the one in Britain. The Socialist Workers Party (‘state capitalist’ and unrelated to the SWP-US and DSP traditions) was a key initiating force in Britain. Their Australian supporters, the International Socialist Organisation were joint founders of the Australian version along with the DSP.

What started off as a joint electoral bloc around minimal demands with equal participation by the various groupings has become virtually a DSP front. The DSP has now become renamed as Democratic Socialist Perspectives and has no public presence apart from the Socialist Alliance, though its youth group Resistance still has an open presence. The Alliance is now virtually a non-revolutionary party dominated by the DSP. Alliance candidates effectively stand on the DSP programme.

During the eighties, the pin-up boys for the DSP were the Sandinistas. They ‘reassessed’ Trotskyism and abandoned it on the basis of the Sandinistas’ ‘success’. Had they any integrity they would have re-assessed their position in the light of the Sandinista’s failure. This they haven’t done. Today they have replaced cheerleading the Sandinistas with cheerleading Chavez in Venezuela. They hail him virtually uncritically.

Another piece of DSP treachery has been its support for Australian troops in East Timor, sent there ostensibly for defending Timorese independence. It may be understandable that some bourgeois nationalists may take imperialist rhetoric at face value. Those who have some understanding of Lenin should know better. Australia has now imposed a deal which steals oil that belongs to the Timorese.


This is only an overview of the whole SWP/DSP history of liquidation and treachery. Essentially what started off as an attempt to establish Trotskyism on the basis of student radicalism against the Vietnam War, degenerated into a pro-Stalinist grouping, organisationally opportunist, and whose only principle appears to be cheerleading Stalinists and building a party distinct from Labor (but not reformism). They are good at tapping into youth and student radicalism.

Whilst on some issues, they find Trotsky’s analysis appropriate, when it comes to drawing fundamental class lines they clearly stand with Stalin, especially in imperialist dominated countries euphemistically called the ‘third world’.

Many DSP members are good activists in their unions. The DSP presents itself as a strong and confident organisation. But it is the Stalinist principles which are decisive. For the sake of the revolution, these must be thoroughly broken from. The only revolutionary banner is the red banner of proletarian internationalism. The revolutionary tradition is that of Leon Trotsky and the Fourth International. On the basis of this tradition a new revolutionary international must be built.

From Class Struggle 61 May-June 2005

Make May 1st Iraqi Freedom Day!

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A big leap forward in the anti-war movement

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

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

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

Bosses’ wars take workers’ lives!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stopwork to stop the war!

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

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

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

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

Make MayDay Iraq Freedom Day!

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

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

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

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

Solidarity with the Iraqi Resistance!

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

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

Stop work to stop the war!

No workers’ lives for bosses’ wars!

Solidarity with the Iraqi resistance!


From Class Struggle 60 March-April 2005

Written by raved

January 11, 2010 at 10:53 pm

An action program for the Iraqi workers’ movement

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For the CWG, the FWC statement (below) while correctly calling for a boycott, falls far short of what is necessary to liberate Iraq from imperialist occupation and from the competing national bourgeois factions only interested only in doing deals with imperialism.

The fake elections of January 30th have confirmed the three-way split between Sistani’s United Iraqi Alliance, based on the Shia majority (around 48% of those who voted) the Kurdish Alliance (around 26%) and Allawi’s ex-Barthist mainly Sunni Iraqi List with 14% (only around 2% of Sunnis voted). While all of these factions want the US out, it is only on terms where they can each improve their relative power in ruling Iraq. That means doing deals with the imperialists so that they get a better share of the surplus extracted from the Iraqi masses. To gain the advantage over their rivals they will be permanently fighting each other, using their militias to jockey for power at the expense of the workers.

We give unconditional support to the armed resistance fighting imperialism including attacking the Iraqi National Guard and police who serve the puppet regime. But as communists we know that only an armed, independent working class can win this fight by taking the road to socialism. The workers must organize to assert their leadership of the popular struggle, reject the fake elections and puppet regime of the imperialists, and fight for a popular constituent assembly that represents all the people! For a Leninist-Trotskyist party and revolutionary program!

· Jobs for all on a living wage!
· Immediate public works to rebuild Iraq!
· End of the occupation! No imperialist bases!
· Mercenaries and imperialist corporations out!
· For an emergency national economic plan!
· US and UK reparations to rebuild Iraq!
· For nationalization of industry under workers control!
· For the nationalization of the land and collectivization of agriculture!
· For workers’ councils and workers’ militias!
· For poor farmers councils everywhere!
· For a popular constituent assembly representing all Iraqis!
· For a government of the workers and the poor peasants!
· Victory to Iraq! Defeat Anglo/US imperialism!


Boycott imperialist election
Statement of Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq

The Iraqi authorities, backed by the occupation forces, declared January 30 2005 the date for the holding of elections, insisting that these would be the first real elections in Iraq for over half a century.

Holding elections to choose one’s political representatives is a basic right. But an election means choosing from among different alternatives. People participating in elections should be well informed about all parties and groups and be able to familiarise themselves with their political programs and policies.

This has not happened in Iraq. Moreover, many territories are under the control of various militias, which prevent their opponents from carrying out any political activity. This means people are unable to find out for themselves the agenda and political programs of each party. Above all most of the political parties and organizations involved in this election have not presented any agendas or programs, but only a few slogans and simple promises.

The candidates submitted by the various political forces in the coming ‘election’ are based on dividing the population on the basis of language, religion, sect and ethnicity. It is intended that the sectarian, ethnic and linguistic differences are to be incorporated in the constitution and become part of each human being’s identity. In this way, Iraqi society is being pushed toward ever deepening religious and ethnic division.

Most important is the fact that this ‘election’ is to take place in a country where there is presently no constitution or legal system. This means the assembly about to be ‘elected’ will create a constitution. This ‘constitution’ will be determined according to the current balance of power and will be framed in the midst of chaos, lack of security, foreign occupation and an absence of civil life.

The masses have been marginalised in the whole political process in society. Therefore workers have no political force which directly represents them in this ‘election’. The only choices available are those which are attempting to divide workers on the basis of sect and ethnicity.

Workers in Iraq should gather around their own objectives and platform and not participate in an ‘election’ where they have no representative. Workers should ignore forces which pose as defenders of the people, but use the deprivation of the people to achieve their objectives and goals.

Let us stand in the forefront of civil resistance to end the occupation in Iraq. Let the will of the Iraqi people be known: to elect their representatives outside of the political equation dictated by the US occupation and pro-occupation forces.

The objectives of workers will only be achieved by the progressive movement of workers who stand in the forefront of the protest movement for civil life, freedom and equality.

From Class Struggle 59 January-February 2005

Iraq Atrocities? US Backed Mercenaries!

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Young men and women attracted by the big bucks are flocking to Iraq as security guards and private contractors. They are being paid to do the dirty work of the US and UK invaders. We say that they are mercenaries selling out their class brothers and sisters and are traitors to the working class.

Mercenary Activities Act

On October the 22nd 2004, New Zealand under the Mercenary Activities (Prohibition) Act 2004, will become a signatory to the 1989 UN Convention banning recruitment, training, financing and use of mercenaries in armed conflict. Significantly, the original bill introduced into Parliament by Labour Foreign Minister Phil Goff in October 2003, came several months after the departure of Foreign Affairs adviser and humanitarian aid worker David Shearer. In 2001, after attending an international forum in the US called “The Politicisation of Humanitarian Action and Staff Security”, an essay written by Shearer and entitled “Privatising Security”, advocated the use of private armies.

New Zealand’s decision to support the Convention is a significant departure from the guns for hire attitude of NZ’s traditional allies principally the US, Britain and France. For decades, these imperialist powers have tried to distance themselves from the SOF (soldiers of fortune) label, especially in regards to the British Ghurkha Regiment and the French Foreign Legion. But this has been mostly for PR and cosmetic reasons. Their non ratification of the UN Convention is an admission of the integral role played by mercenaries or PMC’s (Private Military Companies) as they prefer to be called, in their modern global strategy. In the case of the US, the non recognition of the International Criminal Court is a continuation of this scenario.

The UN Convention itself with its very limited scope, dubious definitions and inability to be enforced, maintains a hypocrisy that turns a blind eye to the vast profits accumulated by the multi-billion dollar arms industry and states who act on its behalf. Never mind the plight of the poor victims. As an agent of Imperialism, the UN cannot be expected to act otherwise. Its effect is largely illusionary. Companies producing the F18’s, Apache helicopter gunships and M1 tanks don’t even warrant scrutiny. Its pretence to represent some kind of moral high ground by trying to differentiate one form of blood money from another exposes yet again the irrelevance of the UN as an instrument for progressive change. To add to the inability of the UN to define “mercenary”, PMC’s and PSC’s (Private Security Companies) have had their legal teams working overtime redefining company job descriptions as a safeguard. For NZ, the new law becomes like its “clean-green” image of itself; symbolism without substance.

SAS supplies Mercs

Regular military ties between NZ and its Anglo Commonwealth partners Australia and Britain, ensure a steady stream of inter-operability, particularly among Special Forces such as the SAS. So close in fact is this relationship that it makes a mockery of the periodic claims made by politicians that New Zealander’s are not operating in theatres of war that they are not supposed to be in. Within military circles, it has been long held common knowledge that where ever British or Australian SAS are operating, New Zealander’s are included among their number either full-time or on inter-service exchange. This also follows to a lesser extent with the US. Indeed NZSAS troopers are so highly thought of and sort after, that they command top dollar by overseas PMC’s and PSC’s when their “official” military service has ended and “Merc Work” begins. For many, going overseas is the way of getting around small problems like the new law introduced by the NZ Government.

In March 2000, former SAS soldiers belonging to PSC Onix International, which had an association with then Waipareira Trust Chairman John Tamihere, conducted a mission in Indonesia to rescue Chinese Indonesian tycoon Johnson Cornelius Lo. According to ex-SAS sources, the mission passed through war zone East Timor. Foreign Minister Phil Goff’s response at the time was low keyed and unconcerned. Embedded local media never really pushed the story and like the demise of Onix International at the end of the same year, saved the Government from some tricky questions about mercenaries operating directly out of NZ.


At a UN special forum on the rights of people to self-determination held in New York on Oct 31 2001, a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on mercenaries Enrique Bernalles Ballesteros stated that mercenaries were often present during terrorist attacks and were often used in battles against those seeking self-determination.

This fits into many of the accounts corroborated by eye witnesses who escaped the massacres perpetrated in Algeria after the 1992 coup which saw the moderate Islamic FIS victory stolen by a western backed criminal government. The more militant Islamic GIA, whose entire leadership was wiped out after the coup, was implicated in many killings in absentia by the government to give the impression that the GIA were still operational and responsible for many future terrorist attacks.

The release of the book La Sale Guerre (The Dirty War) in 2001 lifted the lid on the true nature of the war of “Eradication” being waged by the pro-western Algerian junta or “Pouvoir (Mafia Generals)” as they are locally known. Written by a former military officer Habib Souaida who now lives in exile in France, it gives a vivid and detailed eye witness account of the slaughter perpetrated by the military and its hired secret cadres for the purpose of blaming Islamist organisations.

Examination of the bodies of terrorists involved in the massacres who were themselves killed by local resistance, showed no sign of circumcision; proof of being Moslem. The most incredible aspect of these crimes is the fact that they were committed in staunchly Islamic areas close to military bases and not the places frequented by Westerners such as the clubs and commercial heart of Algiers.

It is absolutely inconceivable that Moslems would turn on their own in the fashion described by reactionary embedded media. According to Islamic tradition, Gods wrath and retribution would be most terrible. But then again, it is not for the consumption of Moslems the fiction being perpetrated. That target belongs to the popular opinion existing in the Imperialist heartland of the US and its allies.

France and its secret services (remember the Rainbow Warrior) have been pivotal in directing much of the dirty war.

Its memory of the colonially directed inter-communal violence that took place during the “Algerian War of Independence 1954-62” was used as the template for the cycle of violence that it helped unleashed after 1992. The post-coup mass privatisation of lands once owned by communities slaughtered by the regime, have fulfilled the requirements of the US dominated multi-nationals. It is known that large oil reserves exist in many of these areas, hence the presence of nearby military bases.

In NZ, political prisoner and former Algerian FIS politician, Ahmed Zaoui, is a victim of the crimes of his country’s government who have also labelled the FIS a terrorist organisation. The criminal attitude of the NZ government doesn’t want to upset its US masters, so is willing to play along with the charade.

Soldier of Fortune Heaven

Soldier of Fortune heaven is the best way to describe Iraq. Mercenaries, far out number the 20,000 British soldiers serving there, making them the second biggest force behind the US. Of the estimated US $ 80 billion being spent on rebuilding Iraq, more than US $ 50 billion will go to private security companies. With the totally privatised Iraqi infrastructure in American hands, that sum will increase substantially more. The bulk of the most highly paid mercenaries in Iraq are former SAS (British, Aussie, and NZ) and US Special Forces who can command upwards from more than US $ 1,000 per day. It’s the biggest racket in town; with no shortage of volunteers. Mercenaries are already implicated in killings and abuses from privately run prisons and torture cells in Afghanistan to the now exposed prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib.

NZ based security firm, Red Key Security, recently ceased advertising positions in Iraq because it was claimed that it was too dangerous. The more likely reason was the anticipated new anti-mercenary law.

British based Global Risk Strategies, in typically colonial racist fashion, underpays its Fijian and Nepali mercenaries. They get US $ 1,000 per month, even though their military skill level is the equivalent of their British counterparts having served in that country’s army. Last December, its Fijian mercenaries were involved in a massacre of civilians in the city of Samara, killing at least 10 and wounding many more.

The spate of kidnappings and murders of foreign workers with their gruesome decapitations shown on the internet, have led many to believe that they are not the work of Islamic extremists, but the work of US and CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) hired mercenaries. This ties in with the anti-Islamic blame strategy as practiced in Algeria. The covert nature and skills of many of its practitioners conclude that this is definitely the case. Its shock value is designed to alienate and create an abhorrence of anything Arab or Islamic and therefore sympathy and support for the US and its allies.

The US and Britain are finding themselves increasingly isolated as a result of their crime of the century. As an added cost cutting exercise, the use of private security to take over the tasks normally reserved for conventional military forces, is an attempt to placate and soften the impact for a home audience becoming increasingly weary of the quagmire that has become Iraq. Mercenary casualties and body counts are never officially recorded, but neither are the Iraqi victims.

The recent kidnapping by US supporters of charity worker Margaret Hassan who has Irish, British and Iraqi citizenship, shows the level to which the stooges of the US are willing to sink in order to continue the fiction of Islamic involvement. As a highly public figure in Iraq, she has condemned the UN/US imposed sanctions and the US/British occupation. The move north by British forces to help beef up the US, should not be seen as a coincidence, but a cynical attempt calculated to shore up support back home by placing a symbol of humanitarianism at centre stage.

An un-named source within one of the British based security companies agrees that there are elements within the private armies who are in Iraq specifically for the purpose of discrediting the insurgents (Iraqi Resistance) by committing brutal murders against innocent civilians. Many come from political organisations associated with the US, principally right-wing death squads. He says, “It’s about selling the bullshit to a home audience; that’s all that matters. My politics isn’t your politics, but then time will tell.”

Socialist Internationalism

In recent days at the UN, Phil Goff was quoted as saying that the new legislation would “not prohibit those motivated to join up to fight for a cause, which they believed in.” This part of the Ministers statement, rings rather hollow when seen in the light of the Conventions protocols. Already unilaterally and outside of the UN, the US is targeting political organisations involved in activity not to its liking. All of these organisations satisfy the conditions as prescribed in the Convention, particularly left-wing ones where funding, training, financing and ultimately use are part of the precondition for their existence. It only comes unstuck when trying to apply the term mercenary. It must be expected and history teaches us that reactionaries like Goff and his cohorts would put all kinds of obstacles in the way of any attempt to internationalise workers struggle.

The fight against fascism during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930’s clearly showed us what was possible when workers from all corners of the world came together to defend the Spanish Republic. Stalinist treachery aside, leftists of all shades, made up the bulk of the International Brigade, including New Zealander’s who would be the back-bone of the NZ Labour Party of old. The question to be posed is; would New Labour defend such a scenario today? Its record of kowtowing to Blairite reaction suggests the obvious answer is no. The collapse of the degenerated Soviet Union, has given license to the US to dictate all terms of reference as to who is friend or foe.

So, what of the UN Convention and the new NZ anti-mercenary Law? Both of these play into the hands of the US agenda and serve only as smoke screens to create the impression that the UN is playing a moderating role against the excesses of those who step out of line with the forces of pro-capitalism.

For workers, the hard yards continue and its business as usual. We must overcome the shenanigans and intrigues that are thrown our way by political legislators whose only interest is to prevent our emancipation and liberation. Whatever labels they choose to put on us, our fight to extend workers struggle beyond our national borders, must remain paramount. In the present climate of US hegemony, the meaning and importance of Socialist Internationalism in terms of leadership, is even greater and more necessary than ever. 

From Class Struggle 58 October-November 2004

Written by raved

January 8, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Endorse the Abdul Raheem Appeal! For a Free, Democratic and Socialist Iraq!

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Iraq lurches from one crisis to another. Violent battles rage between the occupation army and the disparate forces that are collectively mislabeled “Iraqi opposition”. Lawlessness and insecurity are the order of the day. The uneasy calm is broken by confrontations and battles. Out of this volatile situation will arise something called “the new Iraq”. But what will it look like?

The possible scenarios for the future of Iraq are many. But there are only two certainties – Revolution or Counter-revolution!

There are powerful forces with competing interests at play in Iraq. The US and its allies want to dominate Iraq, establish long term control of the region and keep the Middle East safe for capitalist investment. Many of the surrounding dictatorships, notably the Baathists of Syria and the Mullahs of Iran, want to destabilize the US plans in order to save their regimes.

The bourgeois forces in Iraq want to strengthen their position in order to win for themselves the biggest slice of the profits that they can. Tactics vary, while the aim remains the same. While some Baathist and Islamist forces clash with the occupation militarily, ultimately they are willing to cut deals with the occupation forces. These people are not capable of defeating the occupation, let alone rebuilding Iraq.

All of this makes for a grim scenario. Between the Imperialist robbers and the reactionary bourgeois, the Iraqi workers are relegated to a future of immiseration. Or are they? This working class is the forgotten factor that the bourgeois academics and Third Worldist liberals will never take into consideration. Liberals are quite happy to support “Shiite resistance” and “Sunni resistance”, but prefer to ignore the working class, just as they ignore the working class here in New Zealand preferring to reach out to churches and bishops.

What role do the workers and the communist movement have to play in the future of Iraq?

It is possible for a powerful Iraqi workers movement to defeat the U.S. and its allies. Let us recognise that Iraq too is a class society. Iraq too has a bourgeoisie and a proletariat. Iraq had a massive Communist Party in the 1950s and 60s. And if the Iraqi proletariat turned away from the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) in 1960 it did so as a result of the political zig-zags and compromises that the ICP went through. The historic defeats of the ICP did not stem from sectarianism towards the bourgeoisie, but from a failure to arm an independent working class basis.

This Iraqi working class is today occupying factories, and defending them by force of arms not only from the occupation, but also from the Islamist gangs. It has flocked to the Union of Unemployed of Iraq (UUI), which is the biggest organisation of any sort in Iraq, boasting 300,000 members. Working women have joined the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq in their thousands, raising the slogan ‘No to the occupation and the veil!’ Both the Union of Unemployed and the Organisation for Women’s Freedom were founded by the Worker Communist Party of Iraq, a revolutionary Marxist organisation with offices across the country.

The working class has rallied in cross-ethnic solidarity. While the Islamists target Shiite shrines, churches and power plants, the workers have formed neighbourhood and factory defence committees, institutions which could form the basis for a workers’ government. They have proclaimed that certain areas and neighbourhoods are under their protection.

The proclamations include explicit warnings that any attempt to enter the area will be met by force of arms. Here we quote from a press release from the Worker Communist Party of Iraq (WPIraq):

WP Iraq’s Armed Squads Protect Residents of al-Jihad and al-Furat

With jubilation, the residents of al-Jihad suburb in Baghdad received a statement by the WPIraq entitled “In Defense of the Residents of al-Jihad Suburb.” Hundreds of copies of this statement were distributed in the suburbs of al-Jihad and al-Furat. In the following days dozens of residents joined the armed squads of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq to defend the residents of these two suburbs. On August 13, 2004, four armed men using motorbikes tried to carry out a military operation in al-Jihad suburb, however the armed patrols of the WPIraq chased the group and forced them to flee the suburb after wounding one of them.

Also, comrade Sami abu Muhamad, the party leader in al-Jihad, warned the US troops against entering al-Jihad and al-Furat suburbs and asked them settle their accounts outside of these cities. Since the day the above mentioned statement was issued, the armed squads of WPIraq have continued to meet the residents of the suburbs who welcomed them and expressed happiness to see them in the suburbs. In these meetings, members of the WPIraq explained the policies of the party in protecting the residents. Many members of the Iraqi police joined squads of the WPIraq which are now responsible for conducting patrols and running check points 24 hours a day in both of these two suburbs.

On July 12, 2004 another group ordered the shop owners in al-Jihad suburbs to close their shops, however the party’s statement and a visit by the party’s delegation headed by comrade Sami Abu Muhammad, assured them and encouraged them to keep their shop open till midnight. We want to assure all residents of al-Jihad and al-Furat suburbs that their security and safety is the responsibility of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq. Therefore, their support for the party is in turn a support for themselves against the terrorist actions, which claims the lives of dozens of innocent people everyday.

Worker-communist Party of Iraq, 15 Aug 2004

While the “left” internationally rallies to the support of the “freedom fighters” of Moqtada, the same paramilitary reactionaries are engaged in a very real war against the workers of Iraq. Fallujah is regarded by many as a symbol of resistance to imperialism. But that is not the whole story. Fallujah is a town where no woman dares to step outside her home unaccompanied for fear of the Islamists.

If the western left chooses to ignore the role of the Iraqi workers and their organisations, the Islamists do not. They have targeted the offices of the Unemployed Union of Iraq, the Iraqi Communist Party, the Worker Communist Party of Iraq and the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq in a series of bombings and armed attacks.
Nor do US occupiers ignore the workers’ movement in Iraq. They have retained Saddam’s old law banning strikes, and last December they attacked and closed down the headquarters of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions in Baghdad.

It is true that Iraq is a country that is under US occupation. While anyone fights against the occupation, we support them in their legitimate struggle to liberate Iraq from the invader. However we must also recognise that the Iraqi working class and its organisations are real, and that only their armed independence can win a truly independent Iraq. To this end we are committed to supporting the Iraqi workers’ movement to the utmost of our abilities.

The workers’ movement of Aotearoa made a small step in the right direction when its Council of Trade Unions opposed the US invasion of Iraq. Since then, some unions have showed solidarity with their comrades in Iraq. The Rail Maritime and Transport Union gave its name to the international trade union petition calling for the reopening of the Baghdad Trades Hall.

Unemployed members of Unite! community union have spoken at anti-war rallies about the activities of the Union of the Unemployed in Iraq. But words are not enough. The Iraqi workers’ movement needs practical support.

Recently comrade Mohammed Abdul Raheem of the Worker Communist Party was attacked and killed by a gang of Islamists in the town of al-Kut. Comrade Abdul Raheem joins the ranks of fallen heroes of the Iraqi workers movement.

In honour of Comrade Abdul Raheem we are launching an appeal to raise money for the workers organisations in Iraq, and specifically for the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI).

We ask all unionists and all organisations of the left to endorse the Abdul Raheem Appeal. Email us at

In the UK some news on union solidarity: 
In the US:

Australian solidarity group 

French solidarity 

From Class Struggle 57 August-September 2004

Written by raved

January 6, 2010 at 10:12 pm