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Venezuela: Congress of the Nation Workers’ Union (UNT)

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We reproduce here an edited version of the FLT statement on the recent UNT(1) 2nd Congress held in May.(2) What could have been a major step towards working class independence from Chavez ended in a split between several factions, all competing to be the best Chavistas. Most significant, it is clear that the so-called Trotskyist groups in the UNT are not fighting for political independence from Chavez. This confirms our analysis that the ex-Trotskyists in Venezuela are acting as they are in other countries as the left wing of the popular front in Latin America.

Workers struggle sacrificed to the petrodollar bourgeoisie

Between last May 25-27 at the Army Officer’s Club in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, the second congress of the National Union of Workers (UNT)(3), was held. The UNT is the most important workers union in Venezuela with more than 2000 delegates representing a million or more Venezuelan workers.[i]

The resolutions of the 2nd Congress were of crucial importance for the working class not only of Venezuela, but of all Latin America. It offered the possibility of raising an independent working class program against the bourgeois government of Chavez.(4) Such a program would have been a hard blow against the politics of class collaboration which ‘expropriates’ the anti-imperialist struggle of the Venezuelan masses, strangles the Bolivian and Ecuadorian revolutions, and subordinates workers before the bourgeoisie of the whole continent.

But its resolutions, once more, put the masses at the feet of the exploiters and tied the hands of the Venezuelan and Latin American working class. It was also one more confirmation – if such were needed – of the complete bankruptcy of the fake Trotskyists who are “running a race” to see who can be a better Chavez than Chavez himself. Let’s see what happened in the Congress of the UNT and make some conclusions about the role of the fake Trotskyists organisations in Argentina.

“Ten million votes to re-elect Chavez!”

In the Congress, a minority led by Marcela Maspero, broke from the Congress and left the UNT. This sector, dominated by cadres and leaders of the old Bolivariana Force of the Workers (a failed attempt to build a Chavista central Workers Union), and adherents of Chavismo, refused to allow the election of UNT officers in September, arguing that the main priority was the campaign for “ten million votes for Chavez” to win the presidential election in December.

The leaders of the majority (headed by Orlando Chirinos of the UIT(5) to which both factions of the MST in Argentina belong (6) proposed elections in September, but they put as a condition the first resolution had to be… that the UNT and the workers must guarantee first of any other thing 10 million votes for Chavez. Moreover, these leaders denounce in their press a “provocation” by the minority, who set up the ridiculous argument that most of us, the majority delegates don’t support Chavez”. This they say is “a lie”. (Alternativa Socialista N° 431).(7)

Shamelessly, after urging the workers to vote that their main task is to guarantee the re-election of a bourgeois government, they then urged them to vote that “the UNT is a autonomous union, independent of the government”. What do these fake Trotskyists understand by “an independent” union federation? That “the re-election of president Chavez and the independence of the UNT must be simultaneously supported so as to criticize (Chavez) whenever it is necessary…” (ídem).

Imagine that the left groups were leading the Argentinean CGT (8) in 1973 and had launched a campaign for supporting the Peron-Peron slate. What would every class-conscious worker have said? A betrayal of the proletarian cause!. Exactly! The heroic working class militants of the Cordobazo (9), the Vivorazo (10), Sitrac-Sitram (11), the Villazo (12), would have said exactly what we say about the fake Trotskyists: Servants of the bourgeoisie! Enemies of the proletarian revolution!
There is no doubt. Today the fake Trotskyists in Venezuela are the UNT bureaucracy, playing at the same time the role of Stalinism and that of the treacherous union bureaucracies in the other countries of Latin America. Politically they support Chavez, that ally of Kirchner and Repsol.

MAS and PO: working to get ten million “critical” votes… for Chavez

It is impossible to deny that so far, the leaders of the UIT are winning the race to see who is the most “Chavista”. But stepping on their heels are all the other fake Trotskyists, for example the MAS in Argentina and its sister group inside the Venezuelan PRS (the Petare current).

The MAS says it wants to stand “independent worker candidates” but, as the PRS is not legal this “is not possible”. Besides, “most of the workers are politically Chavistas”, and that this cannot be ignored, in so far as “the vote is (something) tactical”. (Socialismo o Barbarie N° 80) (13). For that reason, it ends up calling for a “critical vote”… for Chavez, so that this bourgeois government is re-elected… “critically”.

On the other hand, the PO in Argentina tries to hide it is for “the critical” vote for Chavez. Thus, while it says that voting in the congress of the UNT for “the re-election of Chavez as an strategic policy shows that, despite the differences, the Workers Central Union is under the influence of bourgeois nationalism”, it ends up agreeing with the MAS, in that the vote “is tactical”. Moreover it declares: “it is not a question of our preference for one or another candidate, this is (merely) a tactical issue. It cannot become the main subject matter of a strategic campaign” (Prensa Obrera N° 950, June 15, 2006).(14)

At the end of the day, MAS and PO’s positions could be summarised in a single slogan: “For ten million critical votes… for Chavez”.

PTS: “Spoil your ballot”… sit on the fence, do not face Chavez even in the election

The PTS and its sister group in Venezuela –also a member of the PRS –criticizes those who call for a vote for Chavez as giving in to “bourgeois nationalism”. They prefer to “raise a workers and socialist perspective” by asking people to be very bold, and… spoil their votes.

But the spoiled vote has nothing to do with class politics in the context of bourgeois elections. Moreover, most of the pro-imperialist and pro-coup bourgeois opposition parties and groups will be campaigning for abstention or a blank vote in December elections. The PTS itself already called for a vote for Chavez in the August 2004 referendum; now in order not to appear as openly “Chavista”, it has decided to go for a blank vote. This formula has overall the “virtue” of letting them avoid a confrontation with Chavez. They also reneg on the obligation of telling workers “do not vote for him because he is a bourgeois”.

The politics of class independence in the Venezuelan elections

First we have to expose the deception of “tactical voting” used by the fake Trotskyists. They use this to justify setting up popular fronts or to support “progressive” bourgeois candidates. For revolutionaries, tactics in bourgeois elections are like all tactics, revolutionary tactics. They have to advance the proletarian principles and strategy: in the first place, the elementary principle of class independence. That is to say, it is possible to vote tactically for a workers party or workers candidate, but never for a bourgeois party or candidate.

Second, it is pure deception to call for a ‘tactical vote’ because “there are no conditions” that allow for independent worker candidates in Venezuela, when the UNT exists, a union federation with great authority among the workers! Here was a congress with 2000 worker delegates, one of them could have been chosen as candidate for president. Here is a workers organization which has all the authority to make a campaign for 10 million votes for a UNT worker president and a vice-president from the poor peasants. Such a campaign would have opened the road to a workers and peasants’ government able to break completely with imperialism, solve the land problem and meet the needs of the workers and the exploited people! No doubt that if this resolution had been passed by a show of hands in the congress of workers delegates of the UNT, no legal obstacle could have prevented that campaign for a workers candidacy from going ahead!

An independent working class program

Such a class campaign that raised with clarity a program and an independent workers strategy would had aroused the enormous enthusiasm of the Venezuelan, the Latin America and the United States working class:

· Not even a drop of Venezuelan oil to the US exploiters, slave-traffickers of Latin American immigrants!

· No oil to massacre our Iraqi brothers and sisters, and the workers and exploited from New Orleans!

· For the complete re-nationalization, without compensation and under workers control of oil, and the rest of privatized companies!

· Expropriation without compensation of all the large estates and land for distribution among the poor farmers!

· For decent jobs and living wages for all, with the sliding scale of wages and working hours!

· Minimum wage set at the level of the family shopping basket and indexed according to inflation!

· Down with all the antistrike laws!

· Free quality public Health and Education, on the basis of the expropriation of the private schools and hospitals, the repudiation of the external debt and the application of progressive taxes on the “31 families” (15) and the monopolies!

· A class campaign for a program that calls on the workers and the exploited to vote for a presidential candidate of the UNT, that is, not to vote for Chavez!
Who can doubt that this would galvanize the embattled Bolivian working class that has begun to resist Morales repressive government! It would also inspire the Argentinean working class that refuses to accept the miserable wages and work conditions imposed on them by the union bureaucracy. It would motivate the US working class which today begins to wake up only to be told by the WSF to kneel at the feet of the Democratic Party of Clinton and the Kennedys, so praised by Chavez!

None of the currents of the UNT or of the left in Venezuela want a class program

The ex-Trotskyists that lead the UNT know well that this is possible. But they want to avoid it at all costs. They have demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, that they are the faithful subjects of Chavez; self-confessed reformists whose role is to prevent any move towards class independence by the workers, and to make the latter subservient to the “progressive” bourgeois and the “patriotic” military.

We are not then dealing with “a tactical” problem, but one of principles: because what these currents say to the working class is that the liberation of the workers will not be the work of the workers themselves, but of bourgeois leaders like Chávez.

The ex-Trotskyists supporting Chavez are the same tendencies that in Brazil called for a vote for the popular front of Lula-Alencar, and who are now supporting the class collaborationist government in Bolivia. They are the “theoreticians” who preach the need to create “worker parties based on the unions”. But then where they lead a union federation as the UNT in Venezuela, they refuse to put up a workers candidate for the presidential elections!

As Trotsky said, whoever gives even the slightest political support to a bourgeois government, renounces its revolutionary overthrow by the masses. That is, they renounce the workers’, socialist revolution. These servants of Chavez have deserted the proletarian revolution.

International Coordination Secretariat of the Leninist Trotskyist Fraction


(1) Workers National Union

(2) This statement first appeared in the paper of the Argentine group Workers Democracy.

(3) The UNT was born of the rank and file revolt against the pro-coup, pro-imperialist CTV, the old Workers Central of Venezuela, with a notoriously corrupt and bureaucratic leadership affiliated to Accion Democratica, once the most important bourgeois party, and totally subservient to the establishment.

(4) We say that Chavez is a ‘Bonapartist’ leader of a bourgeois state with a bourgeois constitution, balancing between imperialism, the national bourgeoisie and the working masses. Despite Chavez ‘left’ persona, the Venezuela state defends bourgeois property and ‘nationalised’ property remains that of the bourgeois state. Nevertheless we support Chavez in a united front against imperialism, arguing that only a revolutionary workers movement is capable of defeating imperialism and the Venezuelan national bourgeoisie.

(5) The UIT is one of the international fractions that came out of the Morenoist LIT-CI after the Argentinean MST split the MAS. The UIT was until recently the international organization of the MST and its “sister” groups.

(6) The MST now has split in two irreconcilable fractions, the fraction”2” (led by Pedro Soranz) has just taken control of the UIT, expelling the fraction “1”.

(7) Socialist Alternative.

(8) CGT: Central General de Trabajadores, or Workers Central Union federation. In 1973 it was led by the Peronist bureaucracy (and most of the second half of the 20th century). In 1973 the Peronist Party made the then president (also a Peronist, but of a somewhat left-leaning wing) resign, so that there could be new elections, and to allow General Peron to run for his third presidency. His wife Isabelita Peron ran as vice-president.

(9) Cordobazo: On May 29, 1969, and as a part of the worldwide revolutionary wave that was sweeping almost every country in Latin America and most of the world, there was a semi-insurrection in Cordoba, Argentina’s second city, and a main industrial center at the time. Having been preceded by very combative and persistent student revolts in several Universites all over the country, the Cordobazo began as a protest against the elimination of the so-called ‘English Saturday’ (any time over the half day was paid as time-and-a-half – 50% more) and ended with the defeat of the police that had been called to repress the demonstrations and marches that the workers the owners of Cordoba had made for two or three days. The police had to quit the city and the army was called to replace it. It is important to remember that in 1969, there was a military dictatorship in charge of the government. The Cordobazo opened way to a revolutionary period in Argentina and Latin America that came to an end with the bloody dictatorships of Videla and Co. in Argentina, Pinochet in Chile, etc.

(10) The Vivorazo was another semi-insurrection some time after the Cordobazo, that put Rosario (the third largest Argentinean city, also a main industrial center and the second port of the country) in the hands of the workers for a time.

(11) Sitrac and Sitram were two factory unions (initially set-up as “yellow” unions by the bosses and the bourgeois government to divide and defeat the auto-workers who were affiliated to the SMATA, or Autoworkers United Union). But they shot themselves in the foot. The young workers of the two most important factories in Cordoba –FIAT Materfer, that manufactured electric motors and electric train wagons, and FIAT Concord, that manufactured big electric motors for power stations, dams, etc.- in 1970 defeated the “yellow” bureaucracy in each factory, united the two unions, creating the SITRAC-SITRAM Union, and immediately called for a “working-class nationwide congress of the rank and file, with mandated delegates of every workplace in the country” to vote a working-class program to find a breakthrough for the crisis-ridden Argentina. The two congresses that were held under the name of “Classism”, convened hundreds of militant delegates. “Classism” as a phenomenon was very important, because up to that time, and from the late forties, the previous generations of workers had been mainly Peronist. Unfortunately most the ‘classist’ vanguard that it created were recruited to the various guerrilla currents inspired in Cuban ‘guerrillasim’ (including fake-Trotskyist ones). There were other centrist currents too, as well as left-Peronists, Stalinists, etc. All of them did their utmost to frustrate the opportunity for the workers to take the country in their hands.

(12) Villazo, a semi-insurrection in Villa Constitucion, one of the industrial towns that form the industrial belt running from Buenos Aires City (with its Great Buenos Aires Area) up to Rosario City, some 400km of factories, steelworks, oil refineries, ports, etc., along the coast of the rivers Parana and Plate. The Villazo was the last and most important semi-insurrection of the industrial workers taking a city and a series of big factories in their hands, before the military coup that put Videla and Co. in power. It was brutally repressed, in spite of the support and sympathy from the Argentine workers and students, thanks to the union bureaucracy leaving it isolated, and the left vacillating and capitulating to the pressure of the Stalinists, the Peronist bureaucracy, etc. The centrists in those years did not want to be labeled “guerrillas”, so they never raised slogans about self-defense, workers’ armed militia, etc., tending to raise mostly economic (unionist) slogans plus abstract socialist propaganda.

(13) Socialism or Barbarism

(14) Workers Press.

(15) “31 families”. Name for the richest group of Venezuelan families. They were closely intertwined with imperialist interests for centuries. Most of their members do not even live in Venezuela.


Unite! Organiser enthusiastic about Chavez and Morales

Auckland Unite organiser Mike Treen recently returned from a visit to Venezuela and Boliva. He spoke in Auckland to a meeting organised by GPJA. Treen was ethusiastic about Chavez. “He is ahead of the workers and is leading the revolution”. The same with Morales in Bolivia. “The revolution will not happen without Morales”. This is the Australian Green Left position.

In reponse to a question from a CWG comrade who stressed the need for the working class to be armed and politically independent of Chavez and Morales, Treen rejected the need for the independence of workers from Chavez and Morales. Despite the splits in the UNT recent congress, Treen said it was good that they all supported the re-election of Chavez.

A Socialist Workers speaker at the meeting spoke of a ‘sort of dual power’ in Venezuela. If this term is being used in the Leninist sense, this can only mean that the SWO thinks that Chavez represents the workers in the state, rather than representing the bourgeois in containing and suppressing the workers revolution.

Whatever their apparent differences, both Treen and the SWO speaker substitute Chavez and his political machine for the working class. This confirms our view that Unite and SWO, who have combined to form the Worker’s Charter in NZ, are following the Australian Green Left closely as a cheerleader for the Boliviarian Revolution and left wing of the popular front in Latin America. (see article above).

From Class Struggle 67 June/July 2006

Written by raved

January 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Alliance search for workers ends in split

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Break the unions from the state

Matt McCarten’s move to the Maori Party is the last act in the sorry decline of the Alliance Party. Here we argue that the remaining ‘left’ of the Alliance needs to draw the obvious conclusion from more than a decade trying to influence the Labour Party in office, turn away from the electoral road and rebuild itself as a new workers party with a revolutionary socialist program.

New Labour, ‘old’ labour recycled

When the New Labour Party was formed in 1989 it held out the promise of uniting the left against the anti-worker policies of the Fourth Labour Government. But workers failed to follow it and Jim Anderton and Matt McCarten turned the NLP into their own voting machine to piss on Labour from outside the tent. They forgot that they were also pissing on Labour’s worker supporters who came back to Labour in large numbers in 1993 to almost secure a Labour victory.

Anderton and McCarten antagonised these workers big time when they refused to support Mike Moore’s push to form a minority government in 1993. Instead of drawing the obvious conclusion to go back into the Labour Party it was as if Anderton saw himself as the messiah and that only he could save Labour.

Had Anderton backed Moore to form a minority government there was a fighting chance that it could have won the numbers and put a stop to National’s anti-worker agenda in 1993.This would have given the left the chance of exposing Labour in office. The militants in the NLP could have pissed on Labour from the inside. We could have rallied the unions to repeal the ECA and restore the benefit cuts. That could have led to a fight for renationalisation of the privatized state assets under workers’ control. But the leadership of Anderton and McCarten was never going to submit to the Labour Party bureacracy except on their terms.

Anderton shacks up with middle class

Failing to act on this lesson the NLP and Mana Motuhake rank and file got dragged after Anderton looking for any political partners that could give him more seats. They took on board the Greens, a middle class outfit, the remnants of the old Social Credit movement in the Democrats, and populist Gilbert Myles personal vehicle, the Liberals, to form the Alliance. They buried whatever small worker support there was for the NLP along with Maori support for its sister party, Mana Motuhake, in this populist pot of stew.

Breaking up Labour’s constituency left the field open to that other populist Winston Peters to campaign for the Maori vote. Leading up to the 1996 election Peter’s conned Maori into deserting Labour on the promise that he would never go into government with National. He then exercised the ‘balance of power’ under the new MMP system to put National back into office. This was the first time a party abused Maori voters to split them away from their Labour base since Ratana made its historic alliance with Labour in the 1930s. Maori learned the hard way as Peters and the Tau Henare rat pack grandstanded at the expense of their jobs and welfare.

Having helped the Nationals use the 1990s to attack workers, the Alliance actually made it into government in 1999 and formed a coalition with the Labour Party. But by this time the Labour Party was not only locked into the neo-liberal reforms of the 1980s but most of the 1990s economic reforms as well. Cullen swore by a balanced budget and an independent Reserve Bank. Rogernomics plus Ruthonomics added up to one hell of a ‘social deficit’.

So Labour, as a capitalist government elected to manage kiwi capitalism, had to deliver growth in profits before it could try to make up the ‘social deficit’ to its supporters. This forced it into a Blairite position where it made huge concessions to business in order to pursue its modest social agenda. The Alliance for the most part had to tag along.

When Labour went too far and supported the US invasion of Afghanistan, most of the Alliance split from Anderton. Without his seat, and failing to hit the 5% threshold in the 1992 election, the Alliance was out of parliament and questioning its future.

Radical stocktaking shows bankruptcy

Surely the time was overdue for a radical stocktaking. Sticking with Anderton had drawn a blank. Worse, the balance sheet of those 13 years was almost totally negative. Anderton’s split in 1989 was too little and too late. When the NLP failed to win significant sections of union support in 1990 it should have seen the light and moved back into the Labour Party. Whatever the Alliance won for workers in government with Labour from 1999 it 2002 it lost a lot more by default in the previous decade.

The NLP stalwarts believed in the mission to replace Labour from the outside. They did not understand that the Labour Party will not be removed as a roadblock to the workers movement except as a result of an internal class struggle.

In NZ the history of the labour movement for nearly 100 years has been tied to the life of the Labour Party. It was formed in 1916 after the experience of bloody defeats in strikes to take the fight for socialism into parliament. It was the main vehicle for the rising prosperity of NZ workers after the war. Its shift to the right was dictated by the weakness of the NZ economy and the weakness of organised labour. Yet for most workers it’s still the only game in town.

This means that the working class will not develop any real independence until it stages a fight to the death to revive and split the Labour Party from inside the Labourite unions. And it can only do this by first rebuilding the unions under rank and file control. Trying to push Labour left from the outside without a base in the unions is a futile exercise that further weakens the labour movement and sets back the day of reckoning for Labour.

But instead of learning this lesson, what was left of the Alliance followed Anderton’s main bother boy McCarten into his scheme for building a personal army of workers to get him elected in Auckland Central. This was a sort of caricature of Anderton’s electorate machine in Riccarton.

Tragedy becomes comedy Central

McCarten took over the shell of UNITE! a tiny, almost stillborn union, founded by Alliance unionists including Robert Reid back in the mid 90s. UNITE! was set up to be a union of lowpaid workers, unemployed and beneficiaries. McCarten rebranded it as lowercase Unite without the emphatic (!), formed an ‘workers’ branch in Auckland and did his best to keep unemployed and beneficiaries out. McCarten and his left handyman, Mike Treen, ex-Socialist Action activist, set about recruiting show dancers, fast food workers and English language teachers.

The intention to build a union of the low paid (even without the unemployed and beneficiaries) is good and necessary. (See UNITE! report in this issue). To his credit, McCarten instinctively saw the need to unionise the thousands of casualised service workers left alone by the established unions. But he didn’t want to the burden of organising the unemployed and beneficiaries. He picked the eyes out of sites that could get him the numbers and financial backing to build his electoral machine.

Instead of creating a democratic union that could be a model for rebuilding the rest of the unions, McCarten created separate branches for each worksite where only he as the ‘secretary’ of all these ‘unions’ could control them. Not until this method of union building came into conflict with other Alliance members working in unions whose members were being poached, did McCarten come under fire. And even then it wasn’t McCarten’s strategy but his poaching that raised the ire of other Alliance unionists. But by then McCarten was already preparing to take the Alliance and his ‘Unite’ into the Maori Party.

When Anderton supported the Labour Government in sending troops to Afghanistan, the stand taken by other Alliance MPs and the party against this was principled. The problem, however, was that the Alliance had no union base to mobilise against the war. McCarten’s new union was not built on a political program but his personal patronage. Unite lite was no base to oppose the war.

Unite lite and Alliance left back cops

In fact Unite lite couldnt even oppose the cops. McCarten proved this when he crossed the picket line formed by UNITE! members of the UNITE! West Auckland, against his partner, Alliance member Kathy Caseys exhibition ‘Comrades and Cossacks’ that was co-sponsored by the NZ Police and publically opened by high-ranked police officers. As he crossed this picket line opposing NZ working class history being funded by policewho had played a key role in smashing the 1913 general strike, McCarten challeged the picketers to attend one of his recruitment rallies!

While McCarten got some internal criticism from other Alliance members for his fraternatisation with the cops, other Alliance ‘lefts’ also crossed the picket line relegating class struggle to academic ‘history’. Then McCarten was re-elected leader shortly afterwards. At the same time the Alliance left was regrouping around a new Manifesto in which the Alliance was identified as a ‘socialist party’ based on ‘working people’. Yet nowhere in this Manifesto was there any serious orientation to the unions as the base of any ‘socialist’ party. Class struggle had been relegated to the history of ‘Comrades and Cossacks’ and Parliament remained the holy grail.

But the Alliance was still outside the Labour Party and with no prospect of getting a base in the wider labour movement. McCarten’s search for an ‘army’ of workers to get him elected in Auckland Central was more like pissing in the wind. The demise of the Alliance looked certain when the political shit hit the Foreshore and Seabed fan.

Along Comes Tariana

At first the Alliance backed Labour’s decision to block the Appeal Court’s decision and turn the F&S into ‘public domain’. But the Hikoi changed that when McCarten and Treen found a few thousand potential voters marching to Wellington. Never mind that the Hikoi was against putting the F&S into ‘public domain’ the Alliance turned on its toes and next thing we know is McCarten is offering to run Turia’s election campaign in Te Tai Hauauru. The Alliance Council came out in support of the new Maori Party without any idea what its program would be.

With Turia’s overwhelming by-election victory the Maori Party seems set to challenge Labour for all the Maori seats. The scene is also set for a deal between the Alliance and the MP to campaign against Labour. But while the Anderton split with Labour damaged the Labour movement by pissing into Labour’s tent, the Maori Party looks like splitting the labour movement and pissing into its own tend somewhere in ‘middle ground’ of parliament. The Maori Party has made it clear that it is organised on an ethnic basis and will canvass support for ‘Maori’ interests from both Labour and National.

Matt backs Turia, left splits?

By backing this move by the MP and taking his workersinto this party McCarten is creating a potentially more damaging split with the labour movement than Anderton did 15 years ago. While Anderton’s Alliance spent a decade in the wilderness failing to renew the fight inside the Labour Party, McCarten’s propospal for a Maori Party/Alliance shackup looks like taking Maori workers out of an already weakened labour movement into tribal politics where they will be abused as electoral fodder for a bunch of iwi bureaucrats, politicos and capitalists.

This is dragging the best working class fighters, who can revive the labour movement and lead the fight against imperialism and kiwi crony capitalism, into the arms of their class enemies – Bush and Brash. The corporate ‘warriors’ in the Maori Party who have benefited from the Treaty settlement process will try to use the ‘balance of power’ to pressure the bosses to get a larger share of the profits of kiwi capitalism distributed into their pockets.

But they will be even less successful than they were under the Treaty settlements that funded the birth of small-scale Maori capitalism over the last 20 years. The imperialist ruling class and its kiwi cronies will use MMP to buy off the Maori bosses at the expense of the vast majority of Maori who are members of the casualised working class.

What to do?

Those few hundred members of the Alliance who are serious about building a ‘socialist party’ based upon working people,who are for ‘democratic socialism’ in practice, must turn their backs on their attempts to rebuild the Labour Party from the outside.

The debates taking place inside the Alliance are still dominated by electoral strategy and tactics to recruit members (See Jill Ovens ‘Strange saga of the Alliance’ Red &Green No 3, 2004 p.75). Liquidating into the Maori Party or the Greens abandons the real fight inside the labour movement to build united democratic unions. But building an independent party of the left without a base in the unions also avoids the basic issue. The way to remove the Labour roadblock is to fight for a new workers party by smashing the labour bureaucracy’s hold over workers in the the unions.

Leon Trotsky writing just before he was killed in 1940 on: “Trade Unions in the Epoch of Imperialist Decay” says that because the unions have become “semi-state institutions” it is necessary to “struggle to turn the trade unions into the organs of the broad exploited masses and not the organs of the labor aristocracy…The primary slogan for this struggle is: complete and unconditional independence of the trade unions in relation to the capitalist state.”

Workers will remain trapped inside Labour until they begin to rebuild their unions under rank and file control and break from the bureaucracy and the state. Those Alliance members who are serious about socialism should dedicate themselves to the task of workers democracy and repudiate McCarten’s sell-out into a Maori Party splitting the labour movement and diverting workers into ‘cargo cult’ deals with Brash or Clark and away from united working class struggle.

Communist Workers Group has made clear its stand on the necessity and urgency of mobilising a united working class to fight the sell-out of the F&S against the dead end of the parliamentary road. Equally we have insisted that such mobilisations will not happen unless all socialists put their practice where their rhetoric is and fight to rebuild the labour movement to break from the labour bureaucracy of the ‘big three’ unions and the Blairite ideology of the Labour Government.

Finally, none of this will happen if NZ workers remain trapped in patriotic alliances with any bourgeois party trying to negotiate deals with Australian, US or other imperialist interests to defend our jobs and freedoms. We have to build internationalist unions capable of defending the jobs and freedoms of workers everywhere. CWG pledges to play its part in all united fronts where socialists unite to “strike together, but march separately.”

Unite to Occupy the Foreshore and Seabed!

Build Fighting, Democratic Unions!

Solidarity campaign for Iraqi workers!

Endorse the Abdul Raheem Appeal! 

From Class Struggle 57 August-September 2004