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

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Burn the National Flag!

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In this issue we confront head on the bankrupt politics of the ‘red-green’ left in NZ. We think that on the range of issues that matter today the left is retreating to a reactionary nationalism. In the last issue we welcomed Rabon Kan’s scathing reaction to the new immigration regulations shutting the door on Asians and the left’s complicity in this. We challenged the Seafarers cabotage policy that protects NZ jobs from foreign workers.

This month we take this analysis further. We show not only is the Alliance backing cabotage, but also in a significant rightward move, so is the biggest ‘far-left’ party, the Socialist Workers. We also tackle the critical issue of the Foreshore and put our class line on this question. This F&S question has released a gigantic wave of racism against Maori that sees Winston Peters –the Pauline Hanson of NZ –rapidly rising in the polls. Hanson’s jailing in Australia recently has shown that her once extreme brand of racism is now becoming respectable.

Journalist Paul Holmes gaff calling Kofi Annan a “cheeky darkie” and keeping his state funded job shows just how respectable racism has become in New Zealand. Like immigration, the Foreshore issue is revving up racism in NZ. But what makes it respectable is the politics of the social democrat Alliance and their intellectuals allies like ARENA who sow illusions in kiwi workers joining with their bosses to return to economic protectionism. Rallying to the national flag divides workers and puts us on the slippery slope to racial conflict and ‘national socialism’ that will make Rob Muldoon’s fortress NZ and racist Springbok Tour provocation of the early 1980s look like the Noddy Horror Show. 

When kiwi workers look to their weak capitalist governments to protect their jobs, their country and their foreshore from the aliens inside and outside the country we know we are heading for dark days. Workers who can’t see themselves as a class able to fight for their jobs by joining forces with foreign workers, are also incapable of giving support to the national rights of Maori to control over resources never formally stripped from them. Rather they back a weak national bourgeois government that has no interest in protecting NZ capitalism and is the open agent of imperialism, making NZ workers pay for imperialist profits. 

NZ is a client state of US imperialism and effectively a poor ‘7th state’ of Australia. Grovelling before this parasitic kiwi client state is a mark of a labour movement that is already defeated. While kiwi workers are engaged in a diversionary fight to defend the beachhead from the alien invasion, global capitalism rips out jobs and resources in land, sea, forestry and industry and smashes the unions in the process. It backs Bush’s war on terrorism to send kiwi soldiers to oppress Iraqis and Solomon Islanders and passes legislation to secretly charge and jail Ahmed Zaoui. It is unable to fight back against Labour’s Job Jolt attack on beneficiaries which is nothing more than an attempt to force them into the labour market to lower wage costs and boost imperialist super-profits. Or the ‘work-life balance’ plan to allow the bosses to tap into the fluid labour pool on their, not workers, terms.

But why do workers’ fall for this? In a series of articles we have run on the World Social Forum which we continue in this issue, we go to the root of the problem. The weakness of the working class is not because it is less exploited today or less capable of fighting back. It is the petty bourgeois reformist leadership in the unions, in politics, the media and the universities that conspire to keep them powerless. Trying to escape the working class, this caste of bureaucrats gains financially from managing workers on behalf of the bosses. But the only way they can prevent militant workers from kicking them out is to pretend to be doing it in the name of ‘market socialism’. They stake their credibility on identifying with populist governments like Lula’s in Brazil or Chavez’ in Venezuela, ‘socialist’ regimes like Cuba, or liberation movements like Colombia or Nepal, or their record as Trade Union organizers or as ‘anti-capitalists’. 

But their version of socialism is no more than a reformed capitalism. As we argue in this issue, the world-wide reactionary role of the World Social Forum (and its NZ spin-off Socialist Forum Aotearoa) is rooted in the special interests of privileged bureaucrats who ultimately serve imperialism. They make use of the radical posturing of celebrity intellectuals like Chomsky, Klein, Monbiot, Hardt and Negri etc. and their critique of ‘market’ capitalism (i.e. the uncontrolled market) to trap workers struggles everywhere in alliances with the bosses. We hope to convince all those who have any illusions ‘green left’ politics or in the WSF that this project of transforming ‘market capitalism’ into ‘market socialism’ is futile and destructive. We invite them to join us in fighting for a working class solution to jobs, welfare, the foreshore and trade. We invite them to become revolutionary communists.


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From Class Struggle 49 March/April 2003

The Big Boys have taken over the World Social Forum, says anti-globalisation guru Naomi Klein. Boo hoo! What did she expect? Lula turns up at Porto Alegre and has 75,000 adoring fans who complain when he leaves for the World Economic Forum in Davos. He’s the boss. The WSF is really a reformist ‘movement of movements’ that wants to replace neoliberalism with democratic socialism. But the grassroots enthusiasms of the anti-globalisation troops post-Zapatistas and post-Seattle were always directed from above.It was a small group of PT (Brazilian Workers’ Party) leaders, Le Monde Diplomatique intellectuals and ATTAC ‘activists’ who set the WSF agenda in 2000.

Z Net editor and activist Michael Albert said as much. He found that as a member of the International Council the big decisions about what the forum was about, who would speak , and who would attend, were already made. The big issues, neo-liberalism and how to fight it, and how to make’ another world possible’ were already shaped by the politics of these reformist organisations.

The WSF was the child of the PT, and now the PT leads a Popular Frontgovernment with its main leader, Luis Inacio de Silva, ‘Lula’ for short, the newly elected President of Brazil. So it’s not the WSF but the main attraction that has changed. The WSF still attracts the bevy of left-wing celebrities like Chomsky, Michael Albert, Arundhati Roy and Samir Amin, but the stars are now clearly the strong men of Latin American social democracy, with Lula, Chavez and Ecuadorian leader Guiterrez at their head and Castro as elder statesman (there were 50 Cuban Communist Party leaders headed by Castro’s daughter at Porto Alegre 2003). The fate of the WSF hangs on Lula’s political fate which itself turns on the balance between the US ruling class and his mass working class constituency.

Movements of Movements

Now that it is obvious that Porto Alegre mark 3 was a PR job to get progressive world opinion lined up behind Lula, let’s see how he can deliver on the promise that “another world is possible”.Ignacio Ramonet, a lead writer of Le Monde Diplomatique, reacted to Lula’s election enthusiastically. For Ramonet, Lula’s election marked “the beginning of a new historical cycle in Latin America. The preceding cycle began at the end of a dark period of military tyrannies, repression and armed uprisings, and lasted two decades, since 1983” (what about the Brazilian military coup of 1968 that lasted 20 years, Pinochet’s coup1973 that also lasted nearly 20 years,and the military regime in Argentina from 1976 to 1983?!).

Ramocet says Lula’s electioncrowns a string of left wing victories: the election of Chavez in Venezuela in 1998, the overthrow of President Mahaud in Ecuador in January 2000, the ousting of Fujimori in Peru in December of 2000, the downfall of de la Rua in December 2001, and the election of Colonel Gutierrez in Ecuador in November 2002. Are these regime changes signs of the end of ‘neo-liberalism’ and the opening up of a more democratic period?

Despite the US drive to war, both Chomsky and Roy see signs that grassroots democracy represented by many struggles around the world is ‘confronting the Empire’. They endorse the concept of a ‘movement of movements’. This is the idea that local movements such as the landless in Brazil, the peasants in Colombia, the piqueteros in Argentina, the Kurds in Turkey, the people of Cochabamba in Bolivia, and the poor farmers of India, will join their struggles together to make one big movement. Not only that, Chomsky thinks that the unprecedented and growing majorities opposed to the war on Iraq in Europe and before long in America, before any war has taken place, show that the ruling US and European elites are being threatened from below by a new mass resurgence of peoples’ democracy.

In her speech at Porto Alegre, Arundhati Roy echoed these themes.She asked: “How do we resist ‘Empire’ and make another world possible? The good news is that we are not doing too badly”.She listed a string of victories – Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and so on – and pointed to the collapse of some of the world’s biggest corporations, like the notorious Enron, Betchtel, WorldCom, and Arthur Anderson. “We may not have stopped ‘Empire’ in its tracks – yet – but we have stripped it down. We have made it drop its mask, we have forced it into the open. It now stands before us on the world’s stage in all its brutish, iniquitous nakedness.”Like Chomsky, however, democratic resistance is a rather abstract tool with which to ‘lay siege to Empire’. Roy wants us to “To deprive it of Oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different to the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe”.

The problem here is that the stories that come out of the WSF are not very different to the ones that some sections of the imperialist elites tell us. ‘Empire’ here means the US out of control – Chomsky’s rogue state. According to Metzaros, in this new age of ‘global hegemonic imperialistic capitalism’ only the US is imperialist. That sounds like the French and German politicians trying to mask their rapacious oil concessions in Iraq as humanitarian aid. Painting the US as ‘fascist’ makes them look ‘democratic’. ‘Imperialism’ means the greed and power of a US elite which takes the form of neo-liberalism and globalisation. But this can be resisted and overturned by ‘movements’ fighting against injustice and greed. ‘Democratic’ countries can gang up in the UN to fight imperialism. This vision is boosted by Toni Negri’s view that the US represents a reactionary imperialism that has to be contested by …yes, the European states and the UN!And if ‘imperialism’ is open to reform by the movement of movements, then maybe capitalism can be reformed from below by means of ‘market socialism’. The tell-tale mark of reformists is their belief that a majority can rule the state and reverse the sign of the zero-sum society from rich to poor. Same old story.

Market Socialism

What do all the currents in the WSF have in common?It is the belief that capitalism is a zero-sum society based on unequal exchange that can be reformed by an alliance of workers, petty bourgeois and‘democratic’ capitalists (and/or progressive military leaders like Chavez) in cross-class governments. In ganging up against ‘fascist’ imperialist America, the European bourgeoisie can pose as democrats and mask their own imperialist interests.Entering governments and alliances with the democratic bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeois intelligentsia and the Stalinist and Castroist bureaucracy that dominate the labour movement claim that these governments are controlled by workers, when they are anything but! This is how they try to mask their service to the bourgeoisie in containing workers’ struggles.They have to claim that workers get the best of the deal with a shift from neo-liberal austerity to ‘market socialism’. To paint the politics of betrayal in rosy colours the WSF gets ‘revolutionary’ credentials by its association with a bunch of academic Marxists like Samir Amin and James Petras who dress up with revolutionary phrases reformist policies of socialism on the installment plan.

When such ‘Marxists’ endorse Lula they provide him with an alibi. They blame those who want to mobilise the working class to take power for frightening off the EU imperialists, or for provoking a US counter-revolution. They peddle illusions that workers can benefit from some ‘new deal’ that will alleviate their poverty and suffering!Already in Argentina, the left bureaucracy has turned the administration of poverty into an art form where they are paid by the state to oversee ‘work for the dole’ schemes.


But now we face the truly historic test of Lula’s promise to deliver ‘market socialism’ in Brazil. The election of Lula threatens to repeat the whole history of betrayals in Latin America in the name of the Brazilian PT!Lula wants to negotiate with the IMF and World Bank using his working class voters as electoral fodder.Ramocet praises Lula with no reservations. Lula gets a rapturous welcome in Porto Alegre.But how can Lula deliver to his supporters, the poor workers and landless peasants, unless he repudiates the national debt, nationalises the banks and renationalises privatised state industry?And he cannot do that without arming the workers and peasants to stop a military coup and US counterrevolution succeeding like it did in Chile in 1973.

Whatever the idealism of the WSF ‘story of stories’, or models of a ‘socialist’ utopia, these noble thoughts cannot measure up against the actual struggles on the ground. Story tellingdoes not arm workers and peasants against the military might of imperialism. Not unless one is telling the stories that explain the lessons of the bloody history of workers struggles in the 20th century – stories that say that unless workers take state power they cannot participate in the economy as equals and managers.Or that workers cannot plan a socialist economy unless they expropriate the private property of the capitalist owners.Or that what is needed is a workers’ government and a socialist plan.

We already have clear evidence from Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ecuador, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia, that workers must occupy their factories or workplaces, must make military alliances with the landless peasants, must arm themselves to defend themselves, must organise a general strike, must break with the bureaucrats, must win over the rank and file of the army and seize state power, before any real challenge to imperialism is possible.None of this is possible without the building of an international revolutionary party and program to lead workers along the road to revolution.Failing these measures, imperialism has, can, and will stage armed counter-revolutions and smash all resistance. But with these measures workers and poor peasants can create a United Socialist States of Latin America.

Written by raved

January 3, 2009 at 10:13 pm


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From Class Struggle 49 March/April 2003

If Labour Parties are implicated in Bush’s war, should workers try to build Green Parties or left Social Democratic parties like the Alliance? While their stand against the war appears better than Labour’s would they be able to stop the war?

What ‘peace-loving’ capitalist governments?

At a recent GPJA (Global Peace and Justice Alliance) meeting Alliance activist Mike Treen began a talk on the impending war on Iraq with the statement: “I don’t think we can stop the war on Iraq, but we can make it more expensive for them to go to war”. What he meant was that we are unlikely to influence the Labour-Progressive Coalition Government to get them to recall the ships and planes. But we may make them unpopular and bring about their electoral defeat at the hands of political parties opposed to war.As a member of the Alliance, Treen clearly sees the Alliance rebounding into parliament at the expense of a Labour Government discredited because it won’t criticise the US policy of unilateral regime change. No doubt the Greens share this hope for a revival of their electoral fortunes too.

On the following Saturday, 15 February, New Zealand led the 12 million who rallied against the war. GPJA organised the Auckland rally of more than 10,000 people who marched up Queen Street to Myers Park. There an audience of at least 5,000 cheered loudly in support of resolutions that opposed a war against Iraq whether done in the name of the UN or not, and called on the Labour government to refuse to participate in this war. Water Pressure Group spokesperson Penny Bright got the loudest cheers of the day, when she condemned the UN Security Council and called for direct action at military facilities like Whenuapai Air Base.

On the following day at a‘Peace in the Park’ rally 2,000 people listened to similar speeches and a small group delivered a ‘letter’ with hundreds of signatures to the Prime Minister Helen Clark’s residence repeating the demand that Labour must oppose the war on Iraq. So clearly even if GPJA leaders did not think that they could stop the war, they had hopes of influencing NZ’s participation, or at least exposing Labour as a government committed to war, preparing the ground for political parties against the war to win support in the anti-war movement.

But what Treen failed to say, and what we in the Communist Workers Group and the Anti Imperialist Coalition constantly say, is that appeals to bourgeois governments of any sort cannot stop war. While they may claim to represent workers’ interests, Green and Social Democratic governments go to war to defend the profits of their own bourgeoisies. They do this because the labour bureaucracy that runs the unions and controls Labour Parties are paid for their services with a share of the bosses’ profits, so have to prop up the profit system.

Lessons of History

In Australia, the Labor Party endorsed the First World War enthusiastically. Labor leader Billy Hughes traversed Britain holding public meetings to rally support for the war. What offended Labor workers in Australia was not so much Hughes’ jingoism as his parading around in a top hat sucking up to British royalty. Though Hughes was kicked out of the Labor Party this was over the issue of conscription not the war itself.In NZ Labour leaders like Peter Fraser went to jail rather than fight, but by the Second World War they were in government, and backed Britain’s war by introducing conscription and setting up a network of prison camps to house the thousands of workers who refused to fight for imperialism.

If that is the track record of past Labour governments, then Clark’s Labour-Progressive Coalition Government is no better. In fact the Greens and the Alliance say it’s worse because it took part in a secret war in Afghanistan where NZ SASS troops guided US bombers to their targets. But would the Greens or Alliance be any better in Government? What if the majority of voters break from the warlike Labour parties to back parties like the Alliance and the Greens who have come out against a UN-sanctioned war?Should workers place their hopes in ‘peace-loving’ Alliance-led or Green-led governments?

History is against the Green Left.

Peace movements’ directed at pressuring bourgeois governments, no matter how left-wing, have always been impotent before the imperialist drive to war. Why?Because such ‘movements’ are composed of individuals who see only the symptoms not the causes of war. They see war as a bloody minded ‘policy’ of some sections of the ruling class (hence the personal attacks on Bush or his pro-war ‘camp’, and on Blair’s moral hypocrisy) and appeal to the ‘democratic’ and ‘pacifist’ instincts of more enlightened sectors of the ruling classes. But when these ‘democrats’ also go to war on the basis of high moral principles i.e. ‘defending democracy against fascism’, or in the name of the ‘UN’ or the ‘international community’, the ‘masses’ fall prey to their dressed-up appeals to nationalism and jingoism and are soon drawn into the defence of their virtuous fatherlands against some ‘axis of evil’.

The idea that left wing, even supposedly ‘socialist’ governments, are any better at opposing war is disproved by the betrayals of the leaders of the Second Communist International and the Stalinist leaders of the Third Communist International in the face of the First and Second Imperialist Wars.

On August 4, 1914, the leaders of the Second International of ‘socialist’ parties renounced their clear program of refusing to fight in imperialist wars and instead backed their own bosses to draft workers to kill each other. A hard core of revolutionary workers around Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and Vladimir Lenin formed the Zimmerwald Left(see Class Struggle No 44, 45 & 47) to rally workers to fight against the war.Their position was that workers in each of the imperialist countries, including Russia, should ‘turn their guns on their own ruling class’ because they were the ‘main enemy’, not the workers of other countries.They would transform imperialist war into civil war overthrow their own ruling classes and go on to create a socialist, and ultimately a classless, society. By this means workers could turn the crisis of a bosses’ war into a solution for all humanity.

The example of 1917

That is why CWG repeats again and again that only organised workers’ action can stop war. And that to stop war, the cause of war, capitalism, has to be replaced by socialism. Workers as members of a class that is exploited by capitalism have a class interest in stopping war. They are the ones who are conscripted to kill one another – the cannon fodder – and they are the ones who are forced to work non-stop on the home front for the war effort.War divides them, but it also arms them and exposes them to the suffering of war, and teaches them that they can take action to end war.Historical examples abound.

In Russia the First Imperialist War was ended by a workers’ revolution. It was begun by the women textile workers of St Petersburg who went on strike on International Women’s Day in February 1917. Their strike set in motion the revolutionary process that led to the October Revolution. Trotsky has a powerful description of what happened in his History of the Russian Revolution:

“The 23rd of February (old style) was International Woman’s Day. The social-democratic circles had intended to mark this day in a general manner: by meetings, speeches, leaflets. It had not occurred to anyone that it might become the first day of the revolution. Not a single organisation called for strikes on that day. What is more, even a Bolshevik organisation, and a most militant one – the Vyborg borough-committee, all workers – was opposing strikes…On the following morning, however, in spite of all directives, the women textile workers in several factories went on strike, and sent delegates to the metal workers with an appeal for support…Thus the fact is that the February revolution was begun from below, overcoming the resistance of its own revolutionary organisations, the initiative being taken of their own accord by the most oppressed and downtrodden part of the proletariat – the women textile workers, among them no doubt many soldiers’ wives.” (Vol 1 119-120).

This strike led to a mass strike where thousands of workers rallied behind cries for ‘bread’ and the slogans “Down with the autocracy!’ and ‘Down with the war!’ In five days the masses won over the rank and file of the soldiers fed up with war and went on to overthrow the Tsarist state. Trotsky recounts how relations between workers and soldiers developed in the days before the strike:

“Two weeks before the revolution, a spy… reported a conversation in a tramcar traversing the workers’ suburb. The soldier was telling how in his regiment eight men were under hard labour because last autumn they refused to shoot at the workers of the Nobel factory, but shot at the police instead.“We’ll get even with them’ the solider concluded. A skilled worker answered him: “For that it is necessary to organise so that all will be like one.” The soldier answered, “Don’t you worry, we’ve been organising a long time…They’ve drunk enough blood. Men are suffering in the trenches and here they are fattening their bellies.” (164).

The war in Russia did not end immediately. While workers and soldiers formed soviets and went on to make the October 1917 revolution, not until the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in early 1918 was the new Soviet government able to negotiate a peace with Germany.

On the wider European front the war was stopped by a soldiers’ and sailors’ mutiny in Germany at the end of 1918. The British and German general staffs rapidly agreed to stop hostilities for fear that the ‘Bolshevik Revolution’ would spread to Europe.Unfortunately, the revolutionaries were too poorly organised to be able to turn these mutinies into successful revolutions like in Russia. The defeat of revolution in Germany in 1919 left the workers’ movement divided and weakened. This created conditions in which workers became the target of rising fascist movements based on the ruined middle class and disaffected elements of the working class. The isolation of the Soviet Union soon led to the rise of a degenerated anti-worker bureaucracy under Joseph Stalin. From that point on the war policy of the Soviet Union was subordinated to the defence of‘socialism [ie Stalinism] in one country’.

From Revolution to ‘democratic’ war

In the period after 1924 the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union refused to build United Fronts of all workers to fight fascism – this which further divided the working class, handing a victory to fascism in Italy in 1923, Germany in 1933 and Spain in 1938. After 1935 the Stalinist Comintern then threw all of its energy into forming popular fronts between the communist parties and ‘democratic’, ‘peace loving’, elements of the bourgeoisie who were apparently opposed to fascism. Instead of the Bolsheviks’ policy of civil, or class, war as the best way to fight fascism, this was a policy of civil, or class, peace. Revolutions were sacrificed to the defence of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union.

Communists allied with ‘socialists’ (Labour parties) alongside petty bourgeois and ‘democratic’ bosses’ parties to fight fascism. They were part of the Popular Front (cross-class) government that came to power in France in 1936, and politically supported the Republican government of Spain against Franco’s army. This Stalinist betrayal meant that workers had to forgo revolution and submit to bourgeois governments so that they were divided and defeated by fascism. Franco won in Spain. Hitler gained in strength and prepared to go on the rampage across Europe, into Russia and North Africa. The ultimate proof of the bankruptcy of this ‘peace loving’ policy was the sudden zig when Stalin did a deal with Hitler in 1939 in a desperate attempt to stop an invasion of the Soviet Union. Of course when Hitler broke this pact Stalin zagged back to a popular front policy.

Once again, most workers in New Zealand, and in every other country, put their hopes in ‘left’ parties that claimed to represent workers, or the people, against warlike bosses. From 1941 the communist parties sided with the ‘democratic’ bosses in the hope of defeating the ‘fascist’ bosses, and the result was a disaster for workers everywhere. Instead of rising up against all bosses to stop war, workers went to kill each other to defend the bosses’ ‘democracy’ (the right to rule the masses by means of parliament). Where workers attempted to rise up in revolution at the end of the war as in Italy, Greece and Czechoslovakia, they were weak and isolated, and despite their valiant sacrifices, were defeated. Only in the colonial countries were workers and peasants were more united against their colonial overlords did wars of liberation result in important victories.

Stalinists betray the colonial struggles

But even in the colonies, as in Europe, the betrayal of the ‘left’ saw Stalinist parties, allied to the old ‘socialist’ parties, rally to defend their bourgeoisies against workers and peasants revolutions. Yalta saw Stalin do a deal with Roosevelt and Churchill to divide the world into ‘spheres of interest’. Stalin got Eastern Europe as ‘buffer states’ to defend ‘socialism in one country’ and in exchange he ordered the communist parties to collaborate in the repression of workers’ revolutionary wars in Europe and the Far East.

In China, Korea, Cuba and Indochina, colonial wars were brought to an end, some much earlier than others, by organised peasants and workers armies with little or no help from Stalin. In fact in Indochina, national liberation was set back 30 years because the Stalinists collaborated with the French in the hope of gaining independence peacefully. The result was the massacre of thousands of Trotskyists and other revolutionaries and the French re-occupation of Indochina. In Algeria and in Nicaragua reactionary settlers or landlords were expelled by workers’ and peasants’ militias actively opposed by the Stalinist Communist Parties. In Algeria the French Communist Party sided with the French state in putting down the Algerian insurrection. In South Africa the Communist Party ‘conned’ the workers and peasants into stopping short on the road to national revolution and to ‘share power’ with the white ruling class.

In all of these cases, popular and working class wars of liberation were stalled, or reversed and in most cases defeated, because of the intervention, not only of imperialist ruling classes, but more significantly, of the ‘socialist’ or ‘communist’ parties. Where some of the historic gains of these wars of liberation remain (eg in Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea) it is because the national liberation struggles were forced to overthrow the national bourgeoisie when they openly sided with imperialism, and as yet imperialism has yet to impose decisive and historic defeats on these interrupted revolutions.

Back to the Future

What about the ‘anti-war’ Greens and Alliance-type parties today? These are parties based on the petty bourgeoisie or the labour aristocracy. They are run by a caste of labour bureaucrats. They do not even have the official support of organised labour. People like Keith Locke and Mike Treen do not want to make a revolution, they want to make a parliamentary career. They too sacrifice the interests of the working class to prop up capitalism so that they can represent the small business owners and managers, or serve the bourgeoisie as bureaucrats, politicians and flunkies, and reap their financial rewards.They are reformists who believe in their ability to manage capitalism and make a peaceful and democratic transition to socialism – so long as they are in the driving seat!But the bureaucrats have never been able to do anything other than drive the workers movement off the road.

Today the reformists’ hopes are pinned on the World Social Forum (see the article below) and in particular on the prospects of the Lula government in Brazil to challenge globalisation from below. Just like in the previous imperialist wars, the reformists of the WSF see themselves as the answer to the new imperialist ‘war on terror’. Theorists like Toni Negri present the WSF as a movement of the ‘multitude’ against the Empire. Negri argues, like Chomsky, that the US is a rogue state, which reverted to a more primitive imperialist international posture after S11 by declaring its right to ‘regime change’ by unilateral and pre-emptive military strike.Negri puts his hopes in the multilateral ‘rationality’ of the European Union ruling classes, and the ‘democratic’ fraction of the US ruling class, to constitute a world Empire in the guise of new multinational states like the EU, a revamped UN, giant transnational corporations, and a body of international law.

So like the Mensheviks of the First Imperialist war, and the Stalinists of the Second Imperialist war, today’s WSF reformists think that capitalism can be tamed by appealing to the self-interest of ‘democratic’ capitalists in all countries to join forces and act together to avoid war. This is just like Kautsky’s 1914 theory of ultra-imperialism. Kautsky said that capitalists should not go to war because they have investments spread across the hostile countries. War could end if the workers’ movement persuaded the bosses that war was bad for business.

What today’s post-imperialists overlook is the fact that the conflict between the EU and the US is not a slight reversal of ultra-imperialism caused by a rogue US state, but the reassertion of the inter-imperialist rivalry over the division of the world’s resources and markets. The only reason that the major EU states adopt multilateralism, trying to work through the UN, is that they do not have the military dominance to impose a unilateral line on the US.

To stop the betrayals of a new reformist WSF international, trapping workers in Popular Fronts with the ‘democratic’ bourgeoisie, revolutionaries have to urgently mobilise a new revolutionary International, based on the lessons of the Zimmerwald left of 1915 and the Trotskyist Fourth International in 1938. The CWG is currently engaged with 4 other tendencies in working on a joint document that calls for another Zimmerwald and a new revolutionary international to fight the renewed drive to imperialist war.

Written by raved

January 3, 2009 at 9:56 pm


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The “Axis of Evil”:

The US has won a victory in the first round of its war against Terrorism. It rapidly gained support from its allies and former rivals to an open cheque attack on terrorism at home and abroad. It gained permission to conduct ‘dirty wars’ at will. Complaints about the civilian casualties that now exceed those killed in the S11 attacks and complaints about the interrogation of ‘unlawful combatants’ are met with arrogant disregard. The US has succeeded in three months in redefining terrorism and legitimating the dirty methods used against Afghanistan and Palestine to its huge advantage.

First, it has destroyed the Taliban and al Queda and installed its client government in Kabul. The EU and other states including NZ are now part of a UN peacekeeping force that will ‘rebuild’ Afghanistan. Afghanistan is now a UN protectorate just like Bosnia and East Timor. As in those countries, the UN forces will be used to disarm any anti-imperialist opposition movement. Second, the billions promised to rebuild the economy will be targeted at the infrastructure to subsidise the oil industry. This is one cheap way of using international aid for the welfare of the oil barons. The starving millions of Afghans will benefit little from this aid.

Second, not only has the war on terrorism been used to smash the Taliban, it has been used to pull difficult third parties into line. Russia rapidly succumbed to the US war plans looking to profit from cooperation in central Asia.

India and Pakistan, formerly allied to Russia, have been cut lose and are now all bowing to the US pressure to suppress Islamic fundamentalist movements in the name of the war on terrorism. China has backed the war in exchange for a smooth entry to the WTO.

Third, the US has used the UN to sponsor emergency legislation against terrorism to be adopted by all countries in the wake of September 11. Many states have responded with new laws that drastically reduce individual rights, including indefinite detention, suspension of habeas corpus, the reversal of the presumption of innocence etc. Terrorism is now defined as any activity the CIA thinks threatens US world dominance. [see Stop the CIA Terrorism Bill].

When George Bush said September 11 changed the world, what he really meant was that it signaled a new offensive by US imperialism against all its enemies and rivals to restore the profitability of the US economy. It was a justification for a massive government spend-up on the military to beef up the US forces, and a massive attack on the rights of all oppositional forces at home and abroad to limit their ability to question and challenge the rule of US imperialism. This has made the plight of refugees and migrants from Asia and the Middle East much worse, as they become profiled as suspect terrorists and their minimal rights further attacked.

Having used al Queda as an excuse to go to war against terrorism, the US now uses this pretext to extend the ‘dirty war’ to any and every popular challenge to its new world order.

Israel now has US backing to step up its longstanding dirty war against Palestine by detaining Arafat and other leaders, and occupying Palestinian towns and doing house to house searches to arrest suspected ‘terrorists’.

The US now routinely disregards national borders. It brushes aside the polite objections of Blair and the EU and Mary Robinson of the UN Human Rights Organisation to the double standards that allow it to go to war against terrorism, yet refuses to recognise that those it was attacking were engaged in a war. They are instead classified as ‘unlawful combatants’ and denied the rights of political prisoners. John Walker who fought with the Taliban is charged under US civil law with intending to kill US nationals who were at the time invading Afghanistan.

The Axis of Evil

Bush in his recent State of the Nation speech talked up the war against terrorism by referring to Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the ‘Axis of Evil’. These nations have vigorously rejected their designation as ‘terrorist’ as the next thing to a declaration of war on them. It seems Bush is preparing the ground for more campaigns to get ride of ‘rogue’ states that stand in the way of the expansion of US business interests.

The US now lists over 50 countries as harbouring terrorists. Why were just three, Iraq, Iran and North Korea, named by Bush as the ‘axis of evil”? Why is the US stepping up its war? It has nothing to do with stopping terrorism and everything to do with smashing its rivals.

Iraq set as next target

The first target will probably be Iraq. US planes are concentrated in the Gulf and Turkey close to Iraq. There is doubt however, that the US can get 100,000 troops mobilised before the mid-East summer. An attack on Iraq would blow up the coalition behind the war against terrorism. Both France and Russia have big investments in Iraq and would lose out to a US installed regime in Iraq.

The same objects behind the attack on Afghanistan are there. First, a war that unites US citizens across classes. Second, a war that justifies the increased US$48 Billion Bush has budgeted for the military. Thus, as a result the economic crisis faced by the US economy can be counteracted by a massive injection of state funding at the expense of workers, whose resistance can be dealt with as threats to ‘homeland’ security. Last and not least, the US gets its hands on a new oil rich client state to boost its imperialist super-profits.

Those who say this reasoning is too much like a conspiracy and that the US administration is bungling and confused are themselves confused. The response of US main rivals in the region, the EU and Russia, shows this to be true. Russia has condemned any war against Iraq, and the EU is opposed to extending the war without ‘evidence’ At the recent Munich conference of NATO members, objections to US plans to attack other targets were met with public statements that the US will “go it alone’ since Sept 11 posed a direct threat to the US ‘national interest’. Senator John McCain said:

”A terrorist resides in Baghdad, with the resources of an entire state at his disposal, flush with cash from illicit oil revenues and proud of a decade-long record of falsifying the international community’s demands that he come clean on his programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. ”A day of reckoning is approaching.”

The US unilateral plans to go to war at will against the ‘evil axis’ is a policy dictated by the needs of US imperialism to sideline its rivals and overwhelm all popular resistance in the third world in the grab for total control of the world economy.

Revolutionaries are ‘terrorists’

The degree to which the new definition of terrorism has justified ‘dirty wars’ and demonised all third world worker and peasant movements is also seen in the US arrogance towards the Geneva Conventions. By refusing to treat the Taliban and al Queda as prisoners of war it tries to get acceptance if its dirty rules of war. By keeping these anti-imperialist fighters imprisoned in Guantanamo outside US territory, the US avoids its own laws that would protect their status and treatment.

The US rides roughshod over sovereign nations such as Pakistan and India, buying their loyalty and getting them to ban and arrest suspected ‘terrorists’. It gets formal ‘invitations’ from subservient national leaders to send its special forces to the Philippines, to Colombia and to Argentina. Here, instead of the elitist al Queda funded by Saudi oil money and the CIA, genuinely popular uprisings of peasants and/or workers are designated ‘terrorism’ so justifying a military intervention.

In Colombia, the FARC was near an agreement with the government when the US intervened to define the FARC as a ‘terrorist’ organisation and to impose tougher conditions requiring the FARC to withdraw from the demilitarised zone. The FARC refused, and now the US backed government troops and the right-wing paramilitary are once more in full-scale counter-revolutionary mode to destroy a mass popular movement.

In the Philippines, the US sent in its special forces to suppress the Maoist guerilla movement in the South. Abu Sayyaf has been linked to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida. About 160 U.S. special forces could be among the 660-strong American contingent accompanying Filipino troops to war zones on Basilan. The Filipino ruling class has welcomed the US troops but the left and sections of the public have protested strongly.

In Argentina, a nation-wide uprising of unemployed, employed and petty bourgeois has now reached the stage of threatening to bring down a fourth government in less than two months. The US has troops in the north in response to the picqueteros uprising last year, under the cover of a UN peacekeeping exercise. It is now poised to intervene to back the Argentine bosses against a rising revolutionary movement.

The US emerges from round one of the USWAT as an unrivalled imperialist power. Yet in declaring itself the international posse, judge, jury and executioner, US imperialism makes clear that it is the life and death enemy of the vast masses of the worlds’ peoples.

Imperialist democrats exposed

Those who see the US as a ‘rogue state’ that can be tamed by bourgeois democracy are shown up to be reactionary utopians; utopians because they cannot tame capitalism, reactionary because if they are successful in beheading revolutions, the bosses are handed victory on a plate. While all the important bosses were meeting at the World Trade Forum in New York, the democratic left bosses met again at Porto Alegre in Brazil to plot a human, peaceful and democratic fate for the masses. [see Reunion of the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre ]

More than ever the Communist Manifesto’s ringing call to arms is true today. The world’s workers have nothing to lose but their chains of exploitation and oppression.

Unite in an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist struggle to smash the US military machine and to fight for a socialist world!

Workers of the World Unite!

For a new world party of revolution!

From Class Struggle 43 February/March 2002

Written by raved

June 27, 2008 at 9:58 pm