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Stop Israel’s fascist attack on the Palestinian People!

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Leninist Trotskyist Fraction Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hamas succeeds Al Fatah as the jailhouse guards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One world working class, one fight!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

· UN and imperialist hands off Iran!

From Class Struggle 67 June/July 2006
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Is Zionism Fascism?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Brown

From Class Struggle 67 June/July 2006

Written by raved

January 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm

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

Review: Whose News?

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Documentary made by Aotearoa Independent Media Centre, 2004. 27 minutes.

This short documentary raises some serious issues about the quality of news in New Zealand media. Leading with the statement that NZ has the “most deregulated, commercialised media market in the world”, it examines private ownership and the drive for profits with the implication they both have a profound effect on news content. But it sees the main culprit as foreign ownership.

Bill Rosenberg of the Campaign against Foreign Ownership sets out patterns of ownership in the press, radio and television. His argument is that not only do foreign owners dominate the media market, but they influence media content. The evidence he presents of the domination of NZ media by foreign owners is incontrovertible. But what about content?

Are foreign-owned media more business biased?

The commentary points to NZ having no restrictions on foreign ownership nor cross media ownership to prevent monopolies. But although the question of influence by these foreign owners is raised, the film gives only one example.

In 2001, as part of a campaign in the New Zealand Herald promoting NAFTA, the Herald owner Tony O’Reilly brought Brian Mulroney, a former Canadian Prime Minister, to NZ to advocate for international trade agreements. At the same time, the anti free-trade lobby brought Naomi Klein to speak. Thousands attended her public meetings. The Herald covered Mulroney extensively, while Klein was relegated to soft news on the features page.

Rosenberg suggests that Rupert Murdoch papers supported the war in Iraq but gives no evidence. The Guardian ran a story claiming that the Murdoch press editors world-wide followed their boss’s pro-war line (Greenslade, 2003). Wellington’s Dominion was included.

Yet The Dominion also carried stories by Robert Fisk opposing the war and that the Labour Government had popular support for refusing to join President Bush’s rush to war. Therefore the claim that their editorial line supported the US invasion of Iraq would seem to be unproven.

To test Rosenberg’s claim that foreign owners influence content, the documentary makers should have looked at the only remaining locally owned metropolitan daily in NZ, the Otago Daily Times, and compared its content with the other metropolitan dailies. The NZ press has always been a profit-making enterprise, and local capitalist owners must operate their papers in competition with their foreign-owned rivals. The bottom line means bottom feeders. So putting one’s faith in local media ownership is like asking Doug Myers to give the $500 million his family made from booze to NZ charities.

The sacking of Malcolm Evans

One section of the documentary looks at the dismissal of NZ Herald cartoonist, Malcolm Evans as a case of the censorship of political views. His cartoons on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drew complaints, Evans says, from Zionists. He was asked by the editor not to submit work on the subject. Evans says he was employed on the basis of editorial independence and refused this directive.

Should we defend Evan’s absolute right to freedom of speech? The cartoon at the centre of the controversy substituted a Star of David for the second ‘a’ in the word ‘apartheid’ on a wall in a Palestinian area. Evans quotes at length from Avraham Burg, an Israeli who objects to his Government’s policy on Palestine, in support his own position. He equates his case with that of cartoonist Tony Auth whose cartoon in the Philadelphia Enquirer showed Arabs herded into jail-like sections of the Star of David. Lobby groups protested strongly but Auth’s editor defended him publicly. See also the Oliphant cartoon above.

It is true that the Star of David associates all Jewish Israelis with their Government’s treatment of Palestinians, including those who actively oppose the occupation of Palestine. One could argue that Evans is playing into the hands of Zionists who claim that pro-Palestinian supporters are anti-Semitic. Nevertheless Evans has a right to freedom of expression and we do not support his sacking. We are for mass media owned and controlled by the workers in which all views including anti-Semitism can be expressed openly and debated freely.

Profits vs. public service on quality news?

The documentary presents convincing evidence for the claim that commercial pressures undermine the quality of news. Joe Atkinson cites the deterioration of state television news since the push for deregulation in the 80s when TVNZ was made a State Owned Enterprise. But the real question is ‘how much deterioration’?

But the doco makers say it is “too soon” to test whether the new TVNZ charter with its public service goals, has made any impact on news and news programmes. Or is it?

When Bill Ralston became TVNZ’s first head of news and current affairs under the charter, he came with a reputation as a good investigative journalist. But Ralston declared he wanted no more boring stories. Mediawatch (2004) has tracked the shedding of experienced journalists and the demise of the weekly documentary programme Assignment leaving Sunday to cover current affairs with stories that lack depth and context. Colin Peacock’s comments imply it takes a tabloid approach;

Most often…Sunday’s stories simply aren’t newsworthy enough. Take last weekend – the Maori Party was registered, ACT got a new leader – but Sunday chose to trail this:

[trailer for a story on infidelity]”Are you being cheated on? Are you cheating? -It’s our nature, women get away with affairs far more than guys do. Convinced it will never happen to you?” (Mediawatch, 2004).

Despite such alarming early signs, Whose News? concludes by suggesting public broadcasting is a solution and not part of the problem of inferior standards of news. This is a blind liberal act of faith. It needs to be put into the context of a state ‘hollowed-out’ by international capital with few resources to fund public service media, which is somehow going to pull off objective and balanced reporting? Pull the other one. Only a media owned and controlled by the workers can come anywhere near a ‘democracy of ideas’.

From Class Stuggle 58 October November 2004

MayDay! Workers of the World Unite!

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May 1 is International Workers’ Day! All around the world we are seeing those who are exploited and oppressed by capitalism and imperialism engaged in resistance struggles. In Aotearoa/New Zealand we need to rebuild a labour movement that can act in solidarity with this global resistance. We need to build unions that are democratic, independent, militant, and internationalist, as ‘schools for socialism’!

Workers commemorate past struggles and act in solidarity with present struggles. We remember the historic struggles of the Paris Commune of 1870, the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the heroic colonial revolutions such as the Chinese and Vietnamese. In NZ we celebrate the class battles of 1890, 1912-13 and 1951. These are the major milestones in the making of our class into that revolutionary force that has the power to overthrow capitalism and build socialism.

Workers resistance on the rise

Today the workers movement is weak and defensive. Years of defeat have pushed workers into retreat. But while capitalism can drive back workers struggles it cannot destroy the only class that creates its wealth. Around the world there are signs that workers are once again on the move. Imperialism is in deep crisis and can only survive that crisis by robbing workers and peasants of their resources, driving down their wages and making their lives miserable.

International resistance to imperialist rule is mounting. But the organisation of that resistance is still at a rudimentary level. Because of the weakness of the organised workers movement worldwide, resistance to oppression is taking forms that cut across working class solidarity and hold back the rise of international labour solidarity.

In Palestine and Iraq, the invaders have smashed working class organisations and are forcing workers into the arms of the bosses and Islamic clerics. Young workers are being driven to futile suicidal attacks against high-tech invading armies. Isolated and outgunned these ‘intifada’ can be smashed as in Palestine and Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda, the terrorist organisation funded by wealthy Saudis, is bombing and maiming Western workers to drive imperialism out of the Middle East, not to liberate Muslims but to make rich Arabs bosses even richer.

What we have to learn from all these struggles of oppressed peoples against imperialism is two things: first, the working class is the only class that can unite all the oppressed and defeat imperialism, and second, that the working class must be united internationally and led by a revolutionary party.

Why the working class?

The leadership of the national struggles against imperialism must come from the working class. Only the organised armed workers can turn resistance on the part of peasant and tribal fighters into a victorious defeat of imperialism. All other classes have an interest in doing deals with imperialism for a share of the wealth created by workers and peasants.

Workers, in opposing the system that exploits and oppresses them, have a class interest not only to defeat imperialism. They also have an interest to overthrow the national capitalist class and its hired politicians – including those who pose as friends of the workers like Arafat, Chavez or Lula. And workers have the means to do this as they can strike to close down the economy, arm themselves, win over sections of the military and take state power.

But even where workers are highly organised as they are in Bolivia, they have been cheated of power by class traitors in their own ranks. Armed peasants and miners led by militant trade unions have several times in the last decades been capable of taking power, only to be betrayed by leaders who do deals with imperialism to share the expropriated labour of workers and peasants.

To avoid repeating these defeats, we have to keep alive the lessons of the past as guides to action today. In Russia in 1917, the armed workers were led by a revolutionary party that defeated the treacherous sellout elements in their ranks and helped the struggle for national liberation to become a victorious socialist revolution. The difference between Russia in 1917, and the failed or incomplete revolutions in Germany 1919, Bolivia 1952, Cuba 1959, and Chile 1973, was the existence of a revolutionary party.

The second lesson is, that a victorious national liberation movements against imperialism cannot survive as independent workers’ state without the class solidarity of the workers in the imperialist countries, including their rich client states like New Zealand.

This is because these ‘Western’ workers are the only class that has the strength to shut down the imperialist economies and bring the war machine to a halt.

For example, it was the German workers who went on strike and the soldiers and sailors who mutinied in 1918 stopping the European imperialist powers from overwhelming and smashing the Russian Revolution at its birth. The workers in the imperialist countries are the only force with the power to stop their own bosses from invading, occupying and destroying other countries, by defeating the ‘main enemy’ at home.

The labour ‘aristocracy’

But there is a problem in building support for liberation struggles in the Western working class. Many workers are ‘bought off’ with high wages and back their bosses in imperialist wars. They are members of the labour ‘aristocracy’ whose wages are partly paid by the cheap labour of the ‘developing’ countries. Their unions are led by bureaucrats that manage labour relations within the law of the bosses’ state. They vote for reformist parties that claim to manage capitalism in the interests of ‘all classes’.

For example in the US, the main union organisation, the AFL-CIO, is proud of its ‘patriotism’ in supporting the ‘war on terror’, including the use of the Patriot Act to attack labor rights at home. Why? Because this war defends the interests of US workers whose jobs and wages depend on the strength of US imperialism. The AFL-CIO calls for votes for the Democratic Party, as the more union-friendly party of the US bosses, to deliver these jobs and wages.

This is why the vast majority of those millions of workers who opposed the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, did little more than demonstrate in the streets or pray for peace. They thought that war was the wrong policy. And their pacifism is catching. When Bush abolished the labour rights of public employees after 9-11, there was no strike in response. Even the West Coast Longshoremen, traditionally one of the most militant US unions, loudly proclaimed their unrivalled patriotism and backed off an industrial dispute last year when Bush threatened to lock them up under the Patriot Act.

NZ workers sign up for imperialism

In NZ the CTU official stand on the ‘war on terror’ was to endorse the UN resolutions. While the Auckland CTU leadership took a more principled stand against a UN invasion of Iraq, the union movement in NZ has not taken any industrial action against the SAS being sent to Afghanistan or the Engineers to Iraq. NZ workers too are dominated by a union bureaucracy that banks its career paths on ‘lesser evil’ Labour governments or an alternative future Alliance/Green coalition managing a ‘peaceful and just’ capitalism.

Why? Because in NZ the most privileged workers in unions affiliated to the Labour Party and the ‘left’ parties, benefit from NZ’s military alliance with Australian and US imperialism. For example the Maritime Union ‘cabotage’ campaign appeals to NZ bosses to join forces with Australian imperialist bosses to keep ‘foreign’ workers on lower wages off local ships. And the EPMU is begging the Aussie military to contract out maintenance on its frigates to the Whangarei shipyard that helped to build these ANZAC frigates to police the Pacific on behalf of US and Australian imperialism’s interests.

Pacifism means sucking up to bosses

Thus the most privileged layers of Western workers depend for their jobs and incomes on direct or indirect benefits from imperialist military expenditure. Or on wars for oil, gas, copper, diamonds, fish etc whose proceeds trickle down into their jobs and pay packets. These unions are bureaucratic, pacifist, dependent on the state and form racist national fronts with their bosses to protect their jobs from migrants or foreigners.

The most these workers will do against war is to argue that imperialism does not need to fight wars to defend their jobs and high wages, and that the UN should manage invasions like in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. This is why the official labour movement in the imperialist countries will never go beyond pacifist posturing and never take organised strike action to stop war. For example, even when train drivers went on strike against Britain’s role in the Iraq war, they acted as individuals and not as members of their union.

Build unions of the most oppressed!

But all is not lost. While the union bureaucrats in the imperialist countries serve the interests of the bosses and the labour aristocracies, they do not represent the vast layers of other workers who are highly exploited and oppressed.

These are the migrant workers and/or low paid service workers who are mainly women, ethnic minorities and youth. They are typically casualised workers, not unionised and on the worst pay and conditions. They do not benefit from imperialism and form an oppressed layer of cheap labour in the imperialist heartlands. They have the class interest to form strong links with other workers across borders in the oppressed world and take direct action against their own military machine.

It is to these workers that we must look to form new class struggle unions based on rank and file democracy. They can be organised independently of the state, reformist parties and the bosses. Like the Latino janitors unionised in Los Angeles, they can take militant strike action to fight for better wages and conditions in the heart of the imperialist machine. They can act in international solidarity with the anti-imperialist resistance around the world.
Organise the casualised worker!

In NZ, the large majority of workers in the casualised mainly private service sector are not unionised. They are predominantly young, female, migrant workers. They work for multinational hotels like Sheraton, fast food outlets like Burger King, petrol stations like Mobil, and supermarkets, multinational call centres and commercial cleaners.

They need to be unionised so they can join forces with the workers who are employed by these same global corporates in other countries to fight together to win rights and better pay and conditions.

They can also link up globally with unionised workers in oil companies like Shell, banks like Citigroup, and military contractors like Halliburton, and other war profiteers, to blockade these companies and demand that they get off ‘corporate welfare’ and free up billions for health, education and housing for the poor.

The can unite with unionised workers in the export industries such as fishing and forestry to oppose anti-worker practices and the destruction of fish and timber stocks. They can fight to keep the foreshore and seabed from being sold-off to the expanding multinational aquaculture corporations. They can demand the nationalisation of all these companies under workers’ control with no compensation to the bosses!

For Rank-and-file control of unions

To be effective these unions must be run by their rank and file members. They must struggle to be independent of any political bureaucracy, of the reformist parties who suck them into parliament and the bosses’ state, and able to unite with other unions in militant strike action.

With this organisational strength, these unions can be what Leon Trotsky called ‘schools for revolution’. They can take up the fight for the most immediate bread and butter demands, and when the bosses refuse to meet them, they can take the fight all the way to win workers’ control of industry and state power.

They can take action on wages which become stands on war. They can defend their jobs yet refuse to build or repair frigates. They can demand that the CTU takes strike action against NZ’s military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. When the CTU refuses they can replace it with their own rank and file leadership.

They can impose boycotts and bans on Israel. They can mount solidarity campaigns in defence of migrant workers, so-called illegal workers, refugees like the jailed Algerian Ahmed Zaoui. They can fight for the rights of foreign workers in NZ ships, and build support for the independent trades unions and women’s’ organisations of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.

These unions must be democratic, independent, militant and internationalist! They can train and empower the working class fighters who will unite with workers globally and create a new political leadership that can bring an end to capitalism and build a world socialist society!

Workers have no country!
No to cabotage, frigates and theft of the foreshore!
Strike to stop imperialist war at home!
Support the resistance in Iraq and Palestine!
Support the workers and peasants revolution in Bolivia!
No to the treacherous leaders of the WSF – Lula, Chavez and Castro!
For a new World Party of Revolution!

From Class Struggle 55 April-May 2004

Written by raved

January 6, 2010 at 7:57 pm

MUNZ and Clark: Poking Fun or Kissing Butt?

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Waterfront Re-union

The last issue of Class Struggle featured an article drawing attention to the Maritime Union of New Zealand’s use of George Bush and Helen Clark on a poster promoting its cabotage campaign. Cabotage is a system that would see the restriction of shipping services between New Zealand ports to New Zealand-operated and crewed ships. The Maritime Union and New Zealand shipping bosses want the government to intervene to get rid of the foreign-owned ships and foreign workers currently operating in New Zealand waters. Under cabotage non-New Zealand workers will only be allowed to take up jobs in New Zealand coastal waters if no New Zealand seafarers are available for those jobs. In practice, this would mean that the vast majority of foreign seafarers currently employed working ships in New Zealand waters would lose their jobs to New Zealand workers.

MUNZ PR man Victor Billot reacted angrily to the article, using the indymedia news service to accuse us of being humourless old commies who couldn’t see that MUNZ was actually ‘poking fun’ at Helen Clark and George Bush. Billot defended Cabotage and condemned us for criticising the leadership ‘of one of New Zealand’s few militant workers’ organisations’.

Presumably Victor would argue that September’s issue of Port News, the magazine of the Auckland branch of MUNZ, is also an attempt to ‘poke fun’ at Helen Clark. Well, we’re sorry Vic, but once again we don’t get the joke! September’s Port News features a glossy cover shot of a beaming Helen standing with executives of MUNZ and a couple of rank and file members. Labour Ministers Judith Tizard and John ‘scrap the dole!’ Tamihere feature in a smaller cover photo. In his editorial, MUNZ’s Auckland secretary Terry Ryan explains that the photos were taken at the ‘annual Waterfront reunion held at the Point Chevalier RSA on the 15th of June’. Ryan’s words are worth quoting at length:

“The enormous workload and time constraints involved in a country’s governance are all-consuming, with every person or organisation wanting an ear or a piece of one’s time. Therefore it was genuinely appreciated, and meaningful, to have the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, take time out of her busy schedule to spend a few hours with old friends at the annual Waterfront reunion.”

We’re sure that Terry’s right about the ‘enormous workload’ involved in being Helen Clark. In September alone Helen was busy coordinating New Zealand assistance to two different US wars, organising Jobs Jolt attacks on beneficiaries at home, confiscating the foreshore and seabed from Maori, swinging open the doors of New Zealand to GE, and begging George Bush for a free trade deal in Bangkok. That’s some schedule.

Helen must be rushed off her feet staying George Bush’s ‘very, very, very good friend’, but should MUNZ be quite so sympathetic? Should Terry be giving his ‘old friend’ a pit stop by pouring her a beer at the Pt Chev RSA, or should MUNZ be working to give Helen some real work to do, by taking on a Labour Party policy programme that is more at odds with workers’ interests with every passing day? We reckon that MUNZ and other unions should be taking the fight to Labour over its attacks on beneficiaries, its failure to scrap the anti-worker provisions in the Employment Relations Act, its contributions to the US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the creeping police state that ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation and aggressive policing of dissent is creating. Getting workers off the street and off the job over issues like those is more work than pouring the PM a beer, but it’s more worthwhile too.

Dissenting Voices

But what would we know? We’re just a bunch of commie troublemakers right? A look inside September’s Port News suggests we might not be alone in our dim view of the policies of MUNZ’s cover girl. Terry Ryan’s ode to the Blairite Witch sounds particularly flat next to the verses of a reader opposed to the war Clark is helping Bush fight in Iraq. ‘Down the street flies a missile/And after the commercial breaks,/We’ll have a shot/Of the Patriot,/And the number of hits it takes’ writes Gloria Stanford, in a blackly ironic take on the US conquest of Iraq. You can bet that Helen Clark won’t be whispering Stanford’s ditty in Bush’s ear at the next APEC summit. As far as Clark is concerned, Bush’s conquest has been sanctified by a UN Security Council vote and the sixty New Zealand army engineers stationed near Basra.

Phil Mansor, Secretary of MUNZ’s local 21, provides another dissenting voice with an article about the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Mansor puts his case powerfully, asking readers to imagine their neighbours ‘moving into your backyard, knocking down half your house’ and then ‘building a wall around the two rooms left so you can’t move’. After attacking the hypocrisy of Bush’s ‘Road Map’, Mansor concludes by calling a spade a spade and denouncing the Israeli occupation as terrorism.

You won’t find Helen Clark using language like that – after all, New Zealand under her leadership has actually continued to give military support to the Israeli government, by maintaining New Zealand’s role in the Multinational Force and Observers, a US-funded army which patrols the Sinai Peninsula and helps Sharon seal the southern border of the Gaza Strip. Recently Sharon sent a force deep into Gaza on a bloody search for tunnels which the Palestinians have dug to the Sinai Peninsula. It is the MFO which hunts for these tunnels on the Sinai Peninsula, and which was the ‘silent partner’ in Sharon’s raid.

Labour’s support for imperialism in Palestine and in Iraq reflects its domestic agenda. MUNZ’s pro-Cabotage poster has George Bush telling Clark how wonderful Cabotage is, and Clark promising to copy the US example and bring the system to New Zealand.

There’s an all too familiar logic to that one. George Bush’s government has put many demands on Helen Clark – the prosecution of Bruce Hubbard, repressive ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation modeled on the US’s Patriot Act, support for GE – and the commander-in-chief has tended to get what he wants. And what Bush wants is most definitely not what New Zealand workers want.

Honourable history

Victor Billot actually has half a point when he calls MUNZ ‘one of New Zealand’s few militant workers’ organisations’. Both the organisations that merged to form MUNZ have an honourable history of bypassing the politicians and taking direct action against war and imperialism.

In the 1930s the Waterside Workers Union outraged bosses and embarrassed the Labour Party by refusing to handle scrap iron being sent to Japan to make tanks to kill Chinese. In the 1940s the wharfies campaigned against conscription and the US’s influence over New Zealand foreign policy. In the 70s and the 80s the wharfies and the Seafarers Union both went on strike against US nuke ship visits, closing ports and stopping ferries.

Its history like that which makes current MUNZ policies so disappointing. The union of Jock Barnes and Toby Hill can do better than photo ops with Helen Clark and Cabotage. The words of protest from Gloria Stanford and Phil Mansor show that there is still anti-imperialist fight in MUNZ. We know the people we’d rather see on the cover of Port News!

From Class Struggle 53 November 03/January 04

Written by raved

December 14, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Palestine: The Road Map to Hell

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From Class Struggle 50, May-June 2003

The so-called “Road Map” for the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was born of a US-UK desire to help various Arab regimes defend their support for the war against Iraq before their hostile subjects. Bush proclaimed his support for the eventual creation of a Palestinian mini-state at the Azores summit in March, immediately prior to the start of hostilities against Iraq by the “coalition of the willing”.
The circumstances surrounding the final release of the Road Map and its contents make clear that the purpose of US intervention on the Palestine question is to consolidate its own position as the Mideast superpower. Unlike previous similar initiatives, the Road Map was unveiled without even a US presidential appearance, much less the Rose Garden handshake between Palestinians and Israelis that has accompanied previous initiatives. Israeli reaction was swift and unmistakable. In the immediate aftermath of the road map’s publication, the Israeli Defence Force launched a number of operations in the West Bank and Gaza. The most devastating was on May 1 in Gaza City, claiming 12 lives, including those of top Hamas member Yusef Abu Hein and his two brothers and three children—one aged just two years
The road map was only issued after the US successfully forced part of the first stage on the Palestinians—“comprehensive political reform”. This translates into the removal or sidelining of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and the installation of a regime that is ready to do Washington’s bidding.
Arafat has for a long time wanted a sell out deal with Israel, as was demonstrated by his signing up to the Oslo Accords in 1993. But both Tel Aviv and Washington have wanted to remove him because of his subsequent refusal to go along with Israeli efforts to rewrite the Oslo agreement in order to reduce the territories making up a Palestinian state and legitimise the vast increase in Zionist settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Arafat’s fate was sealed when he failed to suppress the intifada that erupted in September 2000 as a result of Likud leader Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount.
The Chalabi of Palestine
Washington’s chosen replacement for Arafat is Mahmoud Abbas — known as Abu Mazen — a businessman and adviser to the rulers of Qatar, who sits on the right wing of Arafat’s Fateh and who led the discussions culminating in the Oslo Accords. Abu Mazen is the Chalabi of Palestine. His elevation to the post of prime minister, which he assumed by making a speech promising to combat terrorism “by any party and in all its shapes and forms”, was backed by Washington. So was his slate for cabinet posts —particularly the nomination of Muhammad Dahlan as top security official because of his proclaimed readiness to crack down on militant Palestinian groups.
Only after Abu Mazen was successfully installed was the road map published. An unnamed Bush official told the press candidly of Washington’s intentions: “We’re telling people that this is the moment to build up Abu Mazen, and it undermines that objective if you treat Arafat like he’s still in charge. That cannot happen and must not happen.”
Three Phases of Defeat
As for the road map itself, the document offers little to the Palestinians other than a series of demands that they abandon and suppress any struggle against Israeli occupation. Its proposals are divided into three phases, culminating in the founding of a Palestinian mini-state by 2005. “The Quartet” — the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia — are to decide whether each stage has been completed successfully. But each stage is progressively less well defined and no definition is given as to what would constitute a Palestinian state. From the general tenor of the document, it can only be an apartheid-style bantustan, wholly subservient to its more powerful Israeli neighbour and answerable more or less directly to Washington.
Phase One of the Road Map begins with an immediate and unconditional cessation of violence by the Palestinians, “visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere” and the mounting of “effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure”. The restructured/retrained Palestinian security forces” are to resume security cooperation with their counterparts in the Israeli Defence Force, “with the participation of US security officials”.
Only after such a massive security clampdown is deemed by Washington to have been successful is Israel to begin a “progressive withdrawal” of its troops — and then only from those areas occupied from September 28, 2000, the start of the intifada — and freeze any further settlement activity.
Phase Two is meant to focus on “the option of creating an independent Palestinian state”, but with only “provisional borders” and “attributes of sovereignty” as determined by “the consensus judgment of the Quartet” and only after Palestinian elections are held that it is hoped will further marginalise both Arafat and any group opposed to Washington’s dictates. The fate of the Palestinians is also linked in the document to securing “the goal of a comprehensive Middle East peace (including between Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon)”.
Phase Three, a “final, permanent status resolution in 2005”, is meant to include a settlement of all outstanding issues including borders, sovereignty over East Jerusalem settlements and the disputed right of nearly 4 million Palestinian refugees to return to the lands from which they were dispossessed in 1948. None of this is defined, other than with a prescription that it should be “agreed, just, fair, and realistic”.
The Road Map offers far worse conditions to the Palestinians than anything contained in the Oslo Accords, and it holds out potential rewards that are even less attractive. There is not a chance that any Palestinian entity created by this document would have even a semblance of independence. It would not enjoy territorial contiguity and would continue to be policed by Israeli forces as a virtual prison camp for a captive population. The Road Map could only be advanced by a regime drunk on its own power, which believes it can do what it wants in the aftermath of the military crushing of Iraq.
The Palestinians will inevitably resist efforts to impose a US-inspired settlement.Abu Mazen has no popular base and is widely viewed as a tool of the US and Israel. As for Sharon, he calculates that he enjoys enough support in Washington to derail any negotiated settlement that requires Israeli concessions. The majority of his cabinet is on record as opposing an independent Palestinian state in any form, while some have come out forthrightly for what amounts to the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and Gaza in order to establish a “Greater Israel”.
Speaking to Haaretz on April 14, Sharon granted that the “Iraq war created an opportunity with the Palestinians we can’t miss”, but boasted that he had told President Bush “a number of times—I made no concessions in the past, and I will make no concessions now, or ever make concessions in the future, with regard to anything that is related to the security of Israel.”
Labour, Greens side with Sharon
Predictably, the Clark government has added its weedy little voice to the chorus of Western nations demanding that the Palestinians accept Bush’s Road Map. On his recent visit to the Occupied Territories, New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff met Arafat personally to warn him of the ‘consequences’ of not following the Washington line. Goff’s ‘friendly advice’ is the diplomatic flipside of the military pressure New Zealand helps to bring to bear on Palestine as a part of the so-called Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), a US-funded international army which patrols the southern border of the Gaza Strip on behalf of Sharon. The ‘peacekeepers’ in the MFO specialise in trying to stop supporters of the intifada smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip across remote tracks and through tunnels from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. And how about the Green Party, which has been keen to present itself as a supporter of the Palestinian cause, sending MPs to speak to rallies and condemning Sharon in parliament? The Greens are giving enthusiastic support to the Road Map. The Greens are a party which represents the interests of small business, so they are naturally sympathetic to the politics of the small-time capitalists in the Palestinian Authority who are selling out to the US in the hope of becoming the managers of a UN neocolony. We’ve already seen the Greens sell out over Afghanistan, where they supported UN-organised military action, and Iraq, where they backed a Franco-German military occupation as an ‘alternative’ to US military occupation. Support for the Road Map is one more reason not to trust the Greens.
Some of the information in this article comes from the World Socialist Web Site at http://www.wsws.org
Different Road, Different Destination
If Bush’s Road Map offers nothing but destruction, is there a different, revolutionary road for the Palestinians and their supporters around the world? Let’s look at the facts: Palestine is a small semi-colony whose economy is dominated by the imperialist US and its puppet Israel. Israel itself is an artificial apartheid state which can only exist because of enormous US subsidies. The US has always supported Israel over the Palestinians, because Israel is a guaranteed friend for the White House in the Middle East. Surrounded by Arab populations that hate it for its treatment of the Palestinians, Israel has only ever had Western imperialist powers like America to turn to for help. That suits the Americans fine – they can use Israel as a foothold in an oil-rich region, in return for throwing it billions of dollars worth of financial and military aid yearly. American help might seem on the surface like a good thing for working class Israeli Jews, but in reality they pay for Uncle Sam’s ‘aid’ with dangerous lives in a garrison state in perpetual economic crisis.
Even if it achieved full political independence, Palestine could never be free of imperialist domination, as long as its economy was dominated by the US and Israel. As we have seen, the Road Map offers the Palestinian people not a viable state but a Bantustan. Under the terms of the accord, this ‘state’ would constitute less than 20% of the original Palestine, be broken into hundreds of pieces by Israeli roads and be pockmarked with armed Zionist settlements and Israeli army bases. Devoid of heavy industry or a proper infrastructure, such a ‘state’ could serve only as a crash pad for Palestinians forced to cross its borders every day to work in Israel. The petty capitalists who dominate the Palestinian Authority would serve as managers of the Palestinian labour force, taking a few crumbs from the Israelis and the US. In order to achieve real independence, then, the Palestinians also need to get rid of imperialist economic domination. In other words, they need to take over the resources and industry in Palestine and run them for their own benefit under a planned economy.They need socialism. But the tiny size of the Occupied Territories means that a socialist revolution would have to spread to Israel to survive for long. Sharon’s artificial Jewish theocracy needs to be abolished and replaced by a secular, socialist Palestine.
From Popular Committees to Permanent Revolution
A socialist, secular Palestine in place of Israel and the Occupied Territories seems a long way off, but the Palestinians people have at times taken steps in its direction, despite the aggression of Israel and the sabotage of Arafat. In the first months of the intifada, grassroots organisations called Popular Committees were formed to organise the resistance to the Israelis. The Popular Committees featured fighters and supporters from a range of Palestinian factions, and soon began to attract considerable support from a population tired of the empty promises and backroom deal making of Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. As the war intensified and spread throughout the Occupied Territories the Popular Committees began to threaten the authority of Arafat. A power struggle emerged with Arafat and the Palestinian Authority continuing to attract the loyalty of the Palestinian elite and the Popular Committees rallying workers and students.
When Arafat was directly threatened by the Israelis, the Popular Committees would mobilise their forces to defend him, without giving up their independence. In other words, they made a ‘military bloc’ with the Palestinian capitalists for the purpose of fighting the occupying imperialists, but retained the independence that would be necessary to overthrow Arafat and Co once the Israelis had been defeated. Trotskyists refer to this as a strategy of ‘permanent revolution’. Watching the Popular Committees in action, the Trotskyists in the Palestinian Socialist Workers League recognised that they were a force with the potential to create a new, socialist Palestine.
Unlike the corrupt capitalists Arafat represented, the Popular Committees had the desire to fight the Israelis until victory, and to mobilise the masses of the Arab world to help them in their task. And, with their base in the working class, the Popular Committees had the potential to be political and economic building blocks of a socialist society in post-Zionist Palestine.
In a leaflet issued early in 2002, the Socialist Workers League wrote that “it is necessary to develop and expand the Popular Committees, turn them into elected councils of representatives of the Palestinian workers, peasants and soldiers opposed to occupation, and coordinate their activities at the national level. This national council will have the political and moral authority necessary to conduct the mass uprising and turn to the masses of the region, including the Jewish workers, with the call: Let us fight together against imperialism, Zionism, and the client regimes from Egypt to Saudi Arabia! Let us build our own social regime: the socialist society of the workers, peasants and refugees!”
The Left Let Palestine Down
But the Socialist Workers League slogan ‘All power to the Popular Committees!’ was largely ignored by the left outside of Palestine. Instead of supporting the real nucleus of a socialist Palestine, the Western left either supported Arafat and an independent capitalist Palestine ‘as a step forward’, or else argued that support for the intifada meant support for Arafat and suicide bombers, and was thus not worth giving. A better response came from Workers Democracy, the group that was on the frontlines of the Argentinean revolution at the same time as the Popular Committees were forming in Palestine.
Together with the Communist Workers Group and three other organisations, Workers Democracy produced a statement urging the international left to rally to provide arms and other aid to the Popular Committees. The failure of the left to take up this call by the ‘group of five’ can be linked to the failure of the Popular Committees to develop into a successful challenge to Israel and to the government of Arafat. Without the massive international solidarity Workers Democracy wanted to see, the Popular Committees were overwhelmed by Sharon’s reoccupation of the West Bank. Today the Islamist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have taken over the role of the Popular Committees, fighting the Israelis independently of the Palestinian Authority. But the Islamist, pro-capitalist and anti-worker politics of these groups are reflected in counterproductive tactics like suicide bombing, and in an Arafat-style willingness to sell out in return for a few crumbs from the imperialist table. Hamas is already talking about a ceasefire with Israel, if only the Israelis will ‘give us back the 1967 boundaries of Palestine’.
Back in New Zealand…
What about the hard left in New Zealand? Here as elsewhere, the anti-capitalist left has tended to divide between a stagist ‘capitalist state as a step forward’ line and an ultra-left ‘no struggle for independence is worth supporting’ line.
Some groups haven’t even made it that far. On Palestine as on other issues, the Socialist Workers Organisation (no relation to the Socialist Workers League in Palestine) has tailed the Greens, trying vainly to pick up a few stragglers with ‘moderate’ policies that nip at Nandor’s heels. At an emergency rally held in Auckland after Sharon’s invasion of the West Bank last year, SWO members rolled up armed with placards bearing the militant slogan ‘Palestine attacked – Helen Clark should speak out’. Unfortunately for the SWO, Helen Clark had already issued an empty and utterly useless condemnation of the invasion. So for that matter had George Bush. The SWO’s slogan reflected the fact that its leadership shares the Greens’ belief that the New Zealand government can play a ‘good cop’ role on the international scene, helping to rein in ‘bad cops’ like Sharon and Bush. Back in 1994, for instance, the SWO urged Jim Bolger to send a frigate to Mururoa Atoll in retaliation for French nuke tests. The SWO thought that a National Prime Minister could represent Kiwi workers against the French, so it’s no surprise that it thought Helen Clark could fight for the Palestinians against Sharon. The Clark government’s wholehearted endorsement of the Road Map shows how wrong the SWO was.
The ultra-left attitude toward the intifada was expressed locally by two articles in the now-defunct anarchist paper thr@ll. Bad Badder Baddest, a January-February 2002 article which thr@ll co-editor Fyd McLean described as ‘exquisite’, openly announced that ‘We are not hung up on Palestine for the Palestinians.’ For the authors of this piece, Palestinian national liberation could only mean ‘localised tyranny…religious and cultural oppressions’ (1) In a later article, thr@ll reported the protests which followed Sharon’s invasion of the West Bank, but asked whether these actions could have any value, if they were motivated by the desire to create an independent Palestine. thr@ll couldn’t understand that it was possible to create a revolutionary independent Palestine, by building the Popular Committees into organs of direct democracy like the workers’ councils of revolutionary Russia or 30s Spain. Like many anarchists used to the strategy-free ‘ra ra ra’ politics of the militant end of the Western anti-globalisation movement, thr@ll’s authors struggled to deal with the complexities of a real revolutionary situation in a semi-colony where nationalism inevitably has a powerful appeal amongst the working class. Obsessed with avoiding the pitfalls of capitalist nationalism, thr@ll’s articles failed to see the anti-capitalist potential of the intifada.
At the other extreme is the Dunedin-based International Socialist Organisation. The ISO has been very active in the anti-war and pro-Palestine movements in Dunedin and Wellington, and the latest issue of its Socialist Review features an article called ‘Victory to the intifada!’(2) The ISO makes the very good point that activists shouldn’t be afraid to use the slogan ‘Victory to the intifada!’ Nor though should revolutionaries be afraid to explain what that slogan should mean. Nowhere in its article does the ISO draw a class line through the intifada. Nowhere is it clear whether the article favours Arafat’s intifada for a capitalist Palestine, or the intifada for a socialist Palestine reflected in the slogan ‘All power to the Popular Committees!’ If Fyd McLean is blinded by Arafat’s capitalist nationalism, then the ISO is blind to the danger of national capitalists hijacking the intifada. In their different ways, McLean and the ISO exemplify the mistakes the revolutionary left has made over Palestine.
At most, Bush’s Road Map can only temporarily quash the intifada. More dangerous, in the long-term, is the failure of much of the Western left to understand the logic of the Palestinian struggle and the strategy required to defeat Israel and its allies in the White House. In Palestine and elsewhere in the Third World, the theory of permanent revolution offers the only way forward, past the twin wrecks of stagism and ultra-leftism.
(1) Bad Badder Baddest is online at http://thrall.orcon.net.nz/21badbadder.html (2) The ISO’s article is online at http://www.iso.org.nz/sr/14/intifada.htm

Written by raved

January 6, 2009 at 7:40 pm