Sunday, March 24, 2019

Class Struggle #128, Autumn, 2019

Health Workers betrayed by "labour" Party

Another year of wage stagnation and dangerous conditions of continued deliberate underfunding of state provided health services. Residents Doctors Association and Midwifes continue to fight while the district health board bosses (DHB) deliberately drag out negotiations (longer than a year of negotiations). 

Members of the Resident Doctors' Association have held four 48-hour strikes so far this year. They are fighting against DHB bosses who want to dictate rosters and extreme shifts. The RDA wants to be able to reject unsafe rosters: Rosters like 10 days on and up to 4 nights in a row. Who would want to be assessed by a doctor in their past day 6 let alone the last hours of that sort of roster?

This government delivers tired doctors to the working people of NZ who need medical services. That is state deliberately funding second class health services to ordinary working class. While the ‘rich enough’ can dip into both public health services and when concerned or dissatisfied access the private specialists. Labour willingly stands by and runs down the public health service which as a by-product is fostering private health providers.

Nurses (NZNO) took repeated strike action and the rank and file repeatedly rejected offers of cost of living increases. However, their leadership sold them only barely repackaged deal, and promises of progress on gender pay equity that could be a decent pay rise. The PSA (Health) also gave in for an equivalent pay deal, below cost of living increases at < 3% per year. Health workforce has been sold pathetic deals by union bureaucracies that are too close to the Labour Party and so demobilise the workforce to stop pressure on a Labour Government.

The labour bureaucracy of the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) was exposed when it failed to support the RDA. Teachers (NZEI & PPTA) and state sector public service association (PSA) voted against basic solidarity. The PSA was even caught out helping the formation of a scab doctor union “SToNZs”, who negotiated a side deal which gave away safe rostering. PSA and NZNO also refuse any deviation from the leaders/bureaucrats who are anti-MERAS. Yes, they compete for members in the health sector, but to also refuse solidarity with workers in struggle such as the Midwives union, is against the wider class interests. That pays into the government and employers’ hands, continuing to underfund health while health sector unions lack solidarity and can be picked off one at a time.

The Labour led government idly sits by and keeps the DHB Budget under screws sticking to a “fiscal cap” – Labour’s self-imposed budget parameters for its efficient running of the capitalist regime. This means all the DHBs have to ration health services and screw down wage bills. There are not enough resources and waitlists are referred back to their GPs to avoid being a real waitlist. Patients in pain or seriously mentally unwell, are more likely to assault health workers. But protection of our health workforce would come with effective treatment and good prevention.

The Labour Party has in effect, abandoned working people and sticks to the capitalists’ limits, now obviously within their own budget responsibility rules, in other words putting profits before working people. It treats the DHBs as private corporations. The government is effectively encouraging DHBs in their anti-worker rostering. We hear DHBs are not employing experienced nurses who are on top RN pay grades if they can get nurses on lower pay grades and save some money. That means less experience on the floor – fewer specialised nurses. Forever training up relatively new nurses is not the rational way to provide good health services.

Health workers also need to treat DHBs as private corporations and demand a living wage by taking strike action building support in the unions and wider working class until they get their demands. Labour will either respond to the pressure by conceding apparent reforms (increasing funding for DHBs) or it will come out as an openly capitalist party doing the bidding of finance capital and sending the army in to replace health workers. (As it did do in the last nurses strikes). And continue subsidising private health providers (many public dollars go to private health operators and profits.  

Either way, it is a united organised working class that is needed to defeat the parties who defend this capitalist regime and to socialise health under workers’ control.

For Fighting Democratic unions under rank and file control!

Socialise Health under Workers Control!

For a Workers Government based on Workers Councils!

Fascists attack New Zealand Mosques

Did NZ lose its innocence on 15th March 2019? No, it lost it in 1991 when it followed the UN and US into the First Gulf War. About the same time Samuel Huntington published The Clash of Civilisations warning of the threat of Islam to Western Civilisation. 30 years of Islamophobia and the never-ending war on terror what do you get? Fascism defending Western capitalist "civilisation" from peaceful Muslims.

The bourgeois blinkered media commentary focuses on the ‘lone wolf’ theory to avoid confronting the reality of the rise of fascism reaching ‘downunder’. The spies weren’t doing their job, our friendly gun laws need a rebore, and give the cops guns. Let’s all hold hands and pray to our diverse gods to keep the evil at bay. But white supremacists are fascists and there is no way the NZ state is going to stop them when global capitalism is destroying the world to defend its barbaric 'civilisation' from 'radical Islam'.

Don't expect the state, even if 'warned', to act against white supremacists. The US surveillance state with its domestic war on terror screams Islamic terror yet 70% of mass killings are done by white supremacists. The cops enforce the white 'civilisation' that was imposed on the rest of the world for centuries, namely capitalism imperialist exploitation and oppression. Now that that system is on its last legs the defenders of that 'civilisation' are the fascists who blame the loss of white rule heritage on its historic victims and target those who advance the cause of the victims.

The Muslims they target are the victims of centuries of Western 'white' 'civilisation'. From the Crusades to the genocide of Syrian people in an 8-year war, it is the victims who are standing up and bringing their 'justice' back to the home countries. The NZ neo-colonial state is part of that story of conquest and oppression 'downunder'. Its racist oppression is still rampant in Australia and NZ. So, what is new? How is the Christchurch attack different from Parihaka?

Since the fascists are defending their mythology of white civilisation they will never be stopped by the modern version of the colonial bosses' state. We have to stop them by smashing them before they seize power. What this means is no-platform for fascists, and smash them in the streets before they can organise a reactionary social movement to wipe out humanity. It is a warning siren to us all that the fascists struck in Christchurch on the same day as the global Students 'fight for life'.

Algeria and the Arab Revolution

Algeria largely missed out on the Arab Spring in 2010 when Tunisia exploded, followed rapidly by Libya, Egypt and Syria. It’s president, Bouteflika was able to stifle the 2011 uprising with concessions to the masses. Today, after 6 weeks of growing mass protests the Algerian masses are making up for it forcing Bouteflika to stand down and delay the elections. But this grudging concession is not satisfying the masses, they are aiming higher at ‘regime change’ and the ‘ruling class’ and are threatening to rekindle the Arab Revolution.

Algeria has all the features of a semi-colony like the rest of MENA oppressed by imperialism. Algeria never escaped the rule of imperialism as its ruling class became its agents in the exploitation and oppression of the people. The crisis of capitalism today demands that the workers’ pay with mass austerity and poverty. Bouteflika claims the legacy of the revolutionary independence war, but like other ‘left’ nationalists, Gaddafi, Saddam, Assad etc, their loyalty is to imperialism not the working people.

This means that the Arab Revolution must be reactivated by the insurgent masses to break from both imperialism and its local political lackeys. This is what we mean by permanent revolution – the fight for national independence becomes the task of the revolutionary party leading the workers and poor peasants to the socialist revolution and a united socialist federation of Arab workers’ states.

The failure of the Libyan and Egyptian masses in 2011 to arm themselves independently of the bourgeoisie accounts for their failure to break from imperialism. In Syria the armed revolution could have defeated Assad had it not been for the armed invasion of Russia and Iran. Can the uprising in Algeria learn these lessons and raise a program that will see workers and poor farmers come to power showing the way forward for the other Arab states? 

There are good signs. The massive demonstrations made up of rural poor, industrial workers and radical youth. The workers can’t live in the old way and are searching for a new way. Workers and poor peasants must organise their own councils and militias now against state repression. The planned general strike must be coordinated and defended to bring down the regime and create a Workers’ Government. However, unless they rapidly build a revolutionary Marxist party and program to guide them on the struggle, they are in danger of being betrayed and defeated by the class enemy posing as reformists, nationalists and fake Marxists.

There will be many diversions ahead. Bouteflika’s party must be thrown out. The opposition are no better. They cannot make concessions to the masses.  Nor is there a national solution since the Algerian masses cannot succeed without the victory of the Egyptian and Syrian masses and the rest of MENA states. The Arab Revolution stands or falls as a totality.  Calls for any compromise with the national bourgeoisie or imperialism, such as a Constituent Assembly (CA), fall well short of victory and must lead to defeat.

The RCIT makes the mistake of calling for a workers’ and poor peasants government based on workers and poor peasants’ councils to ‘convene’ a “revolutionary constituent assembly”. This is putting the revolution into reverse. Workers and Peasants councils are the political base for armed workers power in government.  A CA is a bourgeois parliament. In other words, a popular front. Such a CA would become the focus for counter-revolutionary attempts to destroy a new Workers and Poor Peasants Government. Attaching the word “revolutionary” does not change the class composition of the popular front.

For a revolutionary Marxist party!

Forward to the Algerian socialist revolution!

For a socialist federation of Arab Republics of MENA!

Venezuela faces civil war

Chris Trotter, well-known in NZ as a ‘left’ commentator, rubbishes those calling for revolution to solve the crisis in Venezuela. He describes the power of the armed forces of modern states and then asks revolutionaries “how big is your army?” compared to that of Maduro.  Clearly, he wants workers to put their trust in Maduro to defend Venezuela against any imperialist intervention rather than arm themselves to resist imperialism, win over the ranks of the army, and replace Maduro’s‘Bolivarian’ bourgeois regime with a workers and poor farmers’ government. 
Trotter has always had a distaste for the revolutionary masses, from the time when he wrote off the Red Fed and backed the social democratic road to socialism in Aotearoa in his book No Right Turn. The role of social democracy (those self-proclaimed labourite leaders in the unions and in government) is to disarm the masses and capitulate to the capitalist state. To speak only about how 'socialist' Maduro has a big loyal army ignores the urgency of splitting the ranks from the officer command to supply arms to the workers loyal to Maduro to form militias capable of defeating a determined US-sponsored coup. 
Chile 1973 is evidence of what happens when reformists rely on a self-professed 'socialist' leader who actively opposes arming the masses.  Germany 1919 is an example of armed mutineers capable of taking power being disarmed by a deal between the reformist 2nd International Social Democracy and the German ruling class. The positive example is Russia 1917 when the armed workers, soldiers and peasants’ soviets took power and defended and defeated an imperialist invasion in a four-year civil war. 
The history lesson is, never rely on social democratic politicians or popular fronts if you want to make a revolution. The masses have the ability to arm and defeat the forces of both social democracy and fascism. A current example is the Anti-Fa mobilization in the US recounted in this issue. Social democracy will always slag off the revolutionary left as 'unrealistic', ‘ultraleft’ and ‘sectarian’, as a way of blaming workers for not being ready for revolution.  A cheap and nasty disarming and diverting of workers onto the parliamentary road and into the arms of fascism. 
The most significant test case of armed workers organising today is what is happening in the USA. The dominant but declining world power with a Bonapartist leader (who claims to stand for the nation ‘above classes’ but is covertly serving reactionary classes) capable of moving right to an open fascist regime using petty bourgeois armed gangs to openly attack working class organisations. That is the cue for the outbreak of an armed US civil war, actually a 'class war', between armed workers and armed capitalists that is the inevitable result of the decline and decay of US imperialism. 
Of course, such regimes attempt to suppress the armed masses at home by embarking on more imperialist adventures and invasions of neo-colonies like Venezuela in the name of the ‘war on terror’. US military adventures will come up against its major rivals, Russia and China, causing more genocides and bigger wars.
The outcome, socialism or barbarism, will depend on organized armed worker self defence against a right Bonapartist or Fascist regime, and refusal to fight foreign wars against oppressed countries or imperialist rivals. Just as the German and Russian workers and soldiers did 100 years ago.

Monday, February 04, 2019

USA Hands Off Venezuela!

Chavistas rally to fight the threatened US led coup to grab Venezuela's oil wealth
Maduro and United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) are not capable of resolving the crisis of capitalism and defeating right populist and imperialist coups d’etats in the long run. Rightist reaction makes headway exactly and only where the crisis of working class leadership is not resolved in the workers’ favor. Maduro’s regime is a “left-Populist” model of bourgeois power, of the dictatorship of Capital, that seeks to maneuver between the imperialist blocs and ultimately fails, leaving the masses where they were before, subjugated to the dictates of global capital and as objects to be exploited in inter-imperialist geopolitics.
We have often said, and it has proven to be true, that the PSUV, the Chavez “United Socialist Party of Venezuela,” has always been a popular front, all by itself, in its class membership composition and its program. When state power is held by such a party, the result is no different than the more classical popular front version of a coalition of reformist workers parties with one or more parties of the bourgeoisie. When such regimes fail it is the masses who pay the price. That is, of course, unless the social vanguard is  prepared to solve the crisis of proletarian leadership. This is the ideological struggle between Menshevism and Bolshevism in the modern context. The “socialists” take power and administer capitalism. Or the workers seize power!
We can already see how the struggle within the U.S. ruling class between Trumpsters and the neo-con layers of  historical rightism has resulted in the appointment of Elliot Abrams as Special Envoy for Venezuela. This is the same Abrams, who under threat of felony prosecution took a plea deal and was  convicted of withholding information from Congress in the Iran/Contra affair. He was an apologist for the Mozote massacre of over 500 in El Salvador and facilitator of any number of other such “fabulous achievements” for which he was charged but never tried. He is the capitalists’ equivalent of a mob enforcer, i.e., a persuader of enforcers. And he is now in charge of crushing the Venezuelan revolution.
Chavismo, an ideology based on a failed putchist’s rise to power as a “left-populist” was always incapable itself of freeing the country from the shackles of imperialism and establishing socialism.  Relying on administration of the capitalist state it, never desired to or tried to build a revolutionary workers party capable of making the socialist revolution. Rather, it recreated the often tried and often failed ‘bloc of classes’ model in the name of an “anti-imperialist” 21st  century Socialism. This “socialism” sought Win Win deals with like-minded “socialists” in China, where the bloc of four classes ideology has led to the resurgence of the capitalist mode of production with the “communist” party in power. Because of their faith in the “progressive” sectors of the bourgeoisie and in Chinese and Cuban socialism, the Chavistas prevented the popular assemblies from growing into revolutionary workers councils which armed the masses to establish direct democratic workers control of the economy and make the socialist revolution.   Instead the Chavistas used their party to bloc with the “progressive” bourgeoisie–the “bolio-bourgeoisie” and this bloc tied the workers trapped in the Chavista party to their own capitalist state and blocked their road to power.
The Venezuelan National Assembly is not an institution that serves the working masses of Venezuela, but the capitalist government of Maduro AND property rights that defy the official land reform, which  in any event actually guarantees the ownership rights of the latifundistas who can prove title dating to 1848, i.e., the biggest landowners! In total contrast we say the democratic organizations of the working class are the trade unions, the factory and workplace committees, worker and union self-defense guards, worker assemblies, workers councils and a revolutionary workers party and revolutionary workers’ International. We say expropriate the latifundistas and land to those who till it! For a Planned economy to employ and feed everyone!
Today in Latin America after decades of experiments in bourgeois “democracy,” sloganeering for another constituent assembly builds illusions in the failed forms of cross-class democracy.  Our fight is for the formation of workers councils and a government of workers councils that takes all political power into the hands of the workers’ self-organized bodies. A constituent assembly, “revolutionary” or otherwise, is only a detour and an obstacle to the path to workers power. A cross-class assembly will only serve the reaction. We call for workers councils and an All-Venezuela Council of Workers’ deputies. These should be immediately recallable by the local bodies.
The history of Popular Fronts has in all cases and varieties been an interregnum permitting rightism to prepare its revenge upon the masses. Likewise, where all petty-bourgeois tendencies in the workers’ movement embrace a nationalist and minimalist program, worker revolutionists propel an internationalist perspective, an international party, an explicit transitional program and the permanent revolution, where all the democratic tasks are carried through to consummation and exceeded and outgrown by concretizing the socialism of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs!
To defeat the designs of imperialism, whether USA sanctions and  intervention, Chinese debt servitude or Russian projects and influence, the task before the working class is not to defend the Maduro government against the right power grab but to defend Venezuela against all expropriators of the national wealth and the imperialist and proxy militaries assembled in the wings. Maduro will not and cannot defend you! Russian mercenaries are assembled to defend Maduro while Elliot Abrams and war hawks in Washington dust off contingency plans. The URGENT task for revolutionary workers is to break from Maduro and build a revolutionary workers party that fights for the power of workers councils and workers militias.  A party which breaks the ranks of the armed forces from defense of the capitalist order and arms the workers and peasants to oppose imperialist intervention, proxy army invaders and rightist coup leaders. Socialism cannot be built in one country. A workers government in Venezuela would need to extend the socialist revolution to Latin America and all of South America and beyond.
The revolutionary cancellation of the debt to all imperialists will put a  workers government in direct conflict with Chinese imperialism. China is owed $23 billion, a debt which takes half of Venezuelan oil revenue proceeds to sustain.  For a rentier state with a one crop economy this debt to China is strangling the nation in the name of 21st century socialism. Chavez cut deals to provide underpriced oil to China in return for loans, which were lauded by the left as the foreign aid of  a ”workers State” (International Communist League-ICL and other Robertsonites) or as anti-imperialist solidarity by the World Social Forum (WSF), Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), Workers World Party (WWP), etc. Only revolutionary cancellation of debts to imperialists will permit long-term solving of the food crisis when linked to an internationalist perspective of socialist federation of Latin America, a planned workers economy that unites the cities and the countryside.
First Published by CWG(USA)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Aotearoa 2018 - year of the 'waking' left

Yellow Vest protestors facing police repression in France

Bomber on The Daily Blog is a bit premature calling victory for the cops and corporates excluded from next years Gay Pride Parade.

In fact all that will be missing from the Pride Parade will be those who choose to side with the police bosses’ decision to ban police from parading in mufti. That is, all those institutions on the side of the ruling class that put their class collaboration ahead of standing up for young gays still being targeted by the cops.

Who is this ‘woke’ left that Bomber is so keen to excoriate?  It is the ‘left’ that tries to exclude the alt-right from exercising their bourgeois right to free speech and association. It first cropped up when this ‘woke’ left tried to ban visiting Canadian alt right speakers for their ‘hate speech’. But as was pointed out at the time, the experience of the last 100 years since the cops and the fascist guards in Germany killed Luxemburg and Liebknecht,  is that free speech for fascists is equivalent to allowing them the freedom to recruit and build their armed gangs. The ‘hate speech’ of the alt right is designed to justify and rally support for alt right actions which directly attack the rights of workers and migrants.

Liberal Greenwald vs white-supremacist Spencer on de-platforming the alt right
Glen GreenwaldGreenwardSpencer

Greenwald expresses the liberal view that the alt right must be heard or else the left will face a backlash. Arch alt rightist Spencer says that de-platforming has set back the growth of the white-supremacist movement in the US.

Why at this particular point in history do we find the alt right mobilising against the left?  Because the severity of the twin crises of economic crash and climate burn gives the ruling classes no choice but to abandon democracy and impose martial or emergency laws to allow the police and military to put down all popular uprisings. So at the very least those who understand this history, need to prepare for these crackdowns by building a working class independent resistance movement.

So to call those who backed the ban on alt right speaking rights, and the Pride ban on police uniforms, the ‘woke’ left is akin to the slurs attached to ‘cisgender’ (biological men and women) and ‘terfs’ (trans exclusionary radical feminists) to label and smear those who oppose the wider, ‘inclusive’ Pride movement from acting as a stool pigeon for the police and spy state, and to attempt to intimidate them from standing up to ruling class bullying.

The ‘woke’ slur has been weaponised as ‘trans exclusionary’, conveniently ignoring the longstanding acceptance and support for transwomen and transmen in the movement, in order to make the ultimatum that ‘cisgender’ people must recognise transgender people as equal to biological sexes, or be cast out of the movement. 

But natural born men and women have been around for millennia, and for at least three thousand years, men have dominated and controlled women in the first form of class society – the patriarchy. For just as long women have resisted gender oppression, but have never been able to remove its roots, which is why this resistance needs to continue until it defeats the patriarchy.

It is this development of class resistance to fascist ‘free speech’ and to corporates dominating Pride that shows us that 2018 is the year of the waking left, not the woke left. The bosses are still the same, spying on democracy to destroy resistance to their terrorist class rule. The alt-right crypto fascists are on the march, using the latest C21st tech to sell their message as ‘free speech’ when its agenda is still to push the nation (xenophobia) Church (moral vacuum) and State (body of armed men) as instruments of ruling class rule. Bolsonaro – ugh!

And the social democrats are now openly liberal capitalist parties when capitalism cannot afford to be liberal. The result is that by posing as the ‘lesser evil’ to fascism, social democracy continues to divide and confuse workers, disorganise their unity and potential power, and thus enable the rise of fascism.

That is why this amorphous ‘woke’ left is in the process of ‘waking’ – developing, excluding, and ‘splitting the left’ – by breaking from liberal capitalism and its crumbling ‘bourgeois democracy’, and radicalising itself as anti-capitalist, anarchist or socialist.

I would say that the woke left is waking – a work in progress in both senses. It has partially penetrated the veils of capitalism, survived the flame wars of social media, seen and felt the causes of inequality – the rich exploiting the poor, women, migrant workers, Maori youth in jail etc.; and cast their vote of no confidence in patriarchy-capitalism-imperialism.

The waking left may not agree on how best to be anti-patriarchy-capitalist-imperialist, and prefer Piketty, Fanon, or Guevara to Marx, but they know that capitalism, including its state forces, is the enemy and that social democracy embedded in the bosses state does not serve the interests of workers. Green capitalism is also part of the problem. So is Pride in capitalism and its agents the cops, banks and corporates, part of the problem.

The two most recent explosions of the waking left are the Yellow Jackets and Extinction Rebellion. These are mainly working class (because workers are 80% of those in the economy!) and representative of all kinds of workers, with a heavy presence of women and youth. What is significant is that this waking left has raised demands refusing to accept austerity, poverty and state repression to pay for capitalism’s crisis. Join that to Extinction Rebellion’s demands that government must take action to reverse climate change, or go and make way for those that will.

Extinction Rebellion1

In raising these anti-capitalist demands The Yellow Jackets are building a new movement that is breaking from social democracy, and even ‘the system’ (Macron is the bastard neo-liberal child of bankrupt parliamentary ‘socialism’); from the alt right whose attempt to take over the Yellow Vests has been unsuccessful so far; from the union bureaucracy that is trying to appease Macron; and, is proving itself as a class-based uprising prepared to resist the state forces.

To be ‘progressive’ today means to fight the class war on the side of the huge working majority and to convince the waking left that the survival of humanity means ending capitalism and building a post-capitalist society where planning production flows from workers’ democracy. To do this working people all over the world need to unite in solidarity to form workers’ governments everywhere against the desperate attacks by patriarchy-capitalism-imperialism that threaten to starve, drown or burn us all.

Our starting point has to be a mass workers’ socialist party independent of both the bosses and the bosses’ bureaucracy, where workers – employed, unemployed, of all genders, ethnicities, and nationalities – democratically debate a program on how to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a new sustainable society that produces for need and not profit and takes immediate action to reverse climate change.