Sunday, February 26, 2017

Capitalism's Crisis is Morgan's Opportunity

Paul Henry a NACT media mouthpiece and maverick capitalist Gareth Morgan fall out over how to save capitalism

As a Marxist I never thought I would say it, but Gareth Morgan, founder of The Opportunities Party (TOP), is to the left of Labour and the Greens on most things. Not only that, so far, he delivers on his promises, because he can. Morgan is open about trying to rescue falling profits by improving the management of capitalism. Labour and the Greens are much less open about their commitment to putting profits before people because they claim they don’t. They lie and most people know it. That is why Morgan the maverick capitalist is far to the left of Labour and the Greens, who are first and foremost the paid political lackeys of capitalism.

Labour and the populist swamp

Labour is the rotting corpse of the First Labour Government. Labour served a useful purpose for the City of London by herding NZ workers and small farmers away from mass rioting onto the Parliamentary road during the Depression. It convinced the Bank of England that it could run the farm and deliver cheap food to Britain by adopting an economic protectionist stance decades before Muldoon came along with Think Big. The Bank agreed because British finance capital profited.

Every Labour Govt since, and there have only been 5 all up, has accommodated to the demands of the dominant fraction of capitalists at the time including the Rogernomes. From the London Bankers to the Wall St. Wankers, Labour has faithfully served finance capital. Even Labour leader David Cunliffe before he was stabbed in the back failed to put up a fight to reject the policies of the 4th Labour Government. He has now gone back to a job serving finance capital. Today Labour has outlived its use-by date which is why it repudiates working class politics for a ‘classless’ middle ground of petty bourgeois greed.

The Greens are a footnote to all this, arriving on the scene when capitalism had already polluted the planet. It advocates a timid utopia where capitalism can be saved by turning it green. More like learning to live with the brown sludge of rotting life. Brown is the colour of populism, fusing bourgeois, petty bourgeois and working classes into one reactionary movement. If there is one classic example of a brown-sludge party in parliament it is the return of Mana to the Maori Party!

Mana/Maori populism is a disaster

Gareth Morgan at the Ratana celebrations attacked the One Nation populism of Winston Peters as no different to Don Brash’s One Nation. But honouring the Treaty so far has just led to the formation of iwi capitalists exploiting iwi workers. So, Gareth Morgan’s Maori namesake, Tuko Morgan, head of the Iwi Leaders’ Forum and now President of the Maori Party, takes the interests of Maori capitalism (beyond fancy underpants) and fuses it with Mana as the voice of working class Maori.

Not hard to see what is happening there, the Brown Table version of ‘trickle down’ where working-class Maori get pissed on. As if Maori as a people can use capitalism to advance the ‘people’ as a whole. This is the begging letter approach to honouring the Treaty which was, and will always be a fraud. Maori identity politics are a petty bourgeois populist/nationalist attempt to become shareholders in a failing NZ Inc., when global capitalism is tottering towards an almighty crash.

Does this mark a shift to the right for Maori? Yes, as Mana has conceded its minority status to the Iwi capitalists Maori Party in all the seats except Te Tai Tokerau which is reserved for Mana. That’s a win for Iwi capitalists over Maori workers. That’s why we say that all arguments that a Labour/Green/Mana/Maori coalition can form a government to get rid of the NACTs are bogged down in the parliamentary swamp. Populist front governments are not progressive rainbow coalitions. They mix red, green and blue into the colour of mud and tie workers hands to the bosses in parliament so they drown in the swamp. No Opportunities for workers here!

Along comes TOP

Along comes the capitalist entrepreneur Gareth Morgan who obviously sees an opportunity to breath life into a dying capitalism. He has learned the lesson that to survive in Aotearoa, let alone the world, capitalism has to be sustainable. He is bright enough to know that we are all doomed by the rip, shit, bust frontier politics of the Keyites. We don’t have the time left to muck about with a political establishment that serves up Pike Rivers, pollution, suicides, poverty, homelessness, and the destruction of nature.

Strategically, to implement his policies, it would be necessary to get rid of capitalism. Maybe Morgan doesn’t believe it yet, so he will have to wake up too. I suspect he already knows that capitalism and human survival are incompatible. If he doesn’t, he will soon find out and it’s up to revolutionaries to rub his nose in it. How to do this? Marxists don’t endorse TOP but we challenge it to turn its program into one that makes impossible demands on capitalism. That can’t happen unless the program activates mass working class demands to expose the limits of capitalism and advance the transition to socialism.

Let’s take the Universal Basic Income as one such a demand. There are left, right and centre arguments for the UBI. The right and centre like because it doesn’t empower workers. Its basic limitation for the left is that the UBI cannot be turned into a ‘transitional demand’ because it is a top-down state policy that does not require workers to self-organise and fight for a living wage. It is no more than a wage subsidy to bosses paid for by workers in the first place. Revolutionaries point out that the only UBI that is worth defending is that which is under workers control so that workers’ committees decide what wage is ‘liveable’, and not the bosses’ state.

As the state sends in the scabs and police to break strikes and occupations to impose their demands, workers will become conscious of the necessity for a workers’ government capable of implementing a democratic socialist plan ending capitalist exploitation and oppression, and empowered to take the revolutionary road to communist society where income equality is defined as: “from each according to their ability, and to each according to their need”. Between the UBI and the living wage is the socialist revolution!

Fabians vs Red Fed

Labour is NOT the mass workers party we need because it no longer identifies with nor acts in the interests of workers and will do deals with capitalist parties (Greens and NZF) to form a popular front government. It is the party of the Union Bureaucracy formed in 1916 to steer the defeated labour movement into the dead end of parliamentary democracy. Its political program was based on Fabian socialism, the British brand of parliamentary socialism that conned workers into thinking that the means of production, distribution and exchange could be nationalised by the capitalist state and the national income distributed ‘fairly’. It owed its origins to that very same state using scabs, police, army and ‘Massey’s Cossacks’ in 1913 to smash the ‘Red Fed’ – the breakaway union movement that rejected compulsory arbitration between Labour and Capital imposed by the Arbitration Court as labour’s ‘leg iron’.

Ever since, Labour has managed capitalism in the belief that the working class and boss class can both get a ‘fair share’ of the national income. The Labour Party became the party of scabs and strike breakers, banning strikes, locking up strikers, imposing military discipline on the labour movement during WW2, and claiming responsibility for the ‘welfare state’ when in reality the boom that made it possible was the result of the massive defeats of labour during the depression and WW2.

Then to prove what had been obvious to revolutionaries for generations, Labour became the party that put profits before people in the 1980 when then end of the post war boom brought a new structural crisis of global capitalism. The unions that had become part of the state arbitration system abandoned any militant actions in the expectation that the Labour Government would deliver labour reforms. They were unprepared for deregulation and the end of economic nationalism. Labour set about delivering a compliant working class to it new imperialist master the US. As a result, workers have never been organised to fight against the capitalist system itself and the gap between rich and poor has widened dramatically. To revive itself in the tradition of the old Red Fed – a fighting, democratic movement – the working class has to break from the Labour Party and build a new, mass workers party based on a socialist program.

We say break from all populist fronts with capitalist parties, and break from the union bureaucracy that serves capitalism by locking workers into labour’s ‘leg iron’. We reject any deals with capitalist parties and fight for the class interests of the working class on the basis of policies that will meet its needs. That calls for a struggle for a Transitional Program that can act as a guide to workers to fight for what we need now all the way to the formation of a Workers Government and a socialist plan.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

How (not) to smash fascism


There is a lot of crying out now about ‘fascism’ with the ascension of Trump. Trump may be a crypto-, neo-, semi-, proto-fascist leader, but as yet he is not the head of a fascist movement nor in charge of a fascist regime. In order to fight and defeat fascism it is necessary to know what it is.

Let’s be clear, fascism is the last resort of finance capital fearing its overthrow by a revolutionary working class. It is the last resort because everything else has failed. It is not an option taken lightly because it risks a civil war by unleashing the angry middle class and misguided workers into a paramilitary movement that become shock troops to smash the revolutionary proletariat. And all wars the capitalists unleash risk the working class winning.

So it is only justified when angry workers are rising up against the state that protects capitalist property and power and no longer accept the bullshit that the ruling class are their class mates. At that point the workers become class conscious and a force capable of overthrowing the whole system. Moreover they can rally the angry petty bourgeois to the revolution by proving that they are powerful enough to overthrow capitalism.

The lesson of the successful Soviet revolution proved that the unity of workers and petty bourgeois against the bourgeoisie was necessary and possible. Against that real threat, fascism is all that is left to defeat the revolution. So the ruling class anticipates the danger, and rallies the discontented petty bourgeoisie and unemployed workers to defend the nation from communism by appealing to a rabid racist nationalism to wipe out the communist party.

That is why fascism first arose in 1920 in Germany and Italy, long before the Nazi rise to power. It was the last resort to smash revolutionary uprisings coming out of WW1. In 1919 an armed workers and soldiers revolution was underway in Germany. The ruling class tried to pacify it by deposing the Kaiser and creating the Wiemar Republic in which the Socialist Party was a leading party. But this failed to head off armed uprisings all over Germany. The counter-revolution succeeded only when the Socialists handed over Luxemburg and Liebknecht the leaders of the Communist Party to the fascist gangs who murdered them and dumped them into a canal.

In Italy in 1919/20 workers rose up in the North and the threat of revolution sparked the formation of a fascist movement. That movement then systematically destroyed the communist organisations and saw Mussolini take power. Those who know Bertolucci’s 1900 saw these events graphically recounted.

While these revolutions were smashed by fascism at its birth the proletariat remained a threat to the ruling class, especially with the failure of the imperialist powers to defeat the Russian revolution in the brutal civil war. Fascism was then the necessary resort of finance capital in Europe to remove this threat. That is why the Nazis came for the communists first.

In the US and in Britain there was a fascist fraction of the ruling class ready to step forward if the proletariat was not pacified by emergency economic measures to deal with unemployment such as the New Deal. Had workers refused to submit to appeals to racism and national chauvinism and overcome the divisions in the labor movement, thrown out their rotten labour ‘lieutenants’ in the unions, and united to pose a threat to state power, the bosses would have quickly resorted to mobilising their fascist shock troops.

As it happened, in both Britain and the US, the working class was incapable of rising to the occasion for several reasons. Most important, the Soviet state, now isolated and under siege, was taken over by the Stalinist bureaucracy that neutered the Communist Parties around the world into agents of Stalin’s foreign policy of appeasement. Without a revolutionary party, US and British workers lacked the leadership and program to unite and fight for socialism. So the threat of revolution never arose to justify a a resort to fascism. Such was the power of the appeal to national chauvinism against any ‘communist’ threat that the surviving revolutionaries succumbed to national chauvinism and actively encouraged workers to fight ‘fascism’ as the worst enemy, and let their imperialist ruling classes off the hook.

In the US today, the conditions necessary for the resort to fascism are yet to materialise. The working class is divided, and misled by politicians, media and union bosses into backing rival boss parties. There is no independent Labor party let alone a revolutionary communist party. It is finance capital behind both boss parties, Republicans and Democrats, that is setting the agenda not a militant workers party. That is why Trump’s regime is as yet no more fascist than the Bush or Clinton regimes.

Trump inherits a failing imperialist state that can only survive by making the working class pay for the crisis of falling profits by further job losses and falling living standards. His promises to deliver jobs and restore America to ‘greatness’ are futile as he faces an inevitable world-wide slump and a drive to inter-imperialist war with China and Russia for control of the remaining global resources.

The working class is currently divided by ethnicity, nationality and gender, and Trump is feeding these antagonisms to prevent the class uniting as one multi-ethnic and multi-gender force for change. Only if he fails to impose the program of finance capital driving workers into more wars, so that workers overcome their divisions, and form a mass workers party with a program for socialist revolution, will Trump find it necessary to resort to fascism. Only then will he be forced to rally his shock troops to destroy the leadership of the workers’ movement.

That is why it is necessary now to build workers’ unity and reject pacifist appeals to non-violent resistance. History proves it is necessary to organise an armed defence against the rise of fascist gangs. Because if fascism is allowed to grow it is a mortal threat to the existence of a revolutionary class, and hence to the existence to the human race facing climate catastrophe, all attempts to mollify or placate fascism, to pass laws against it, or to rely on the state forces including the police to stop it, are futile.

For workers as a class, democratic rights are subordinated to advancing the struggle for revolution. These and are not abstract ‘rights’ that must be accorded to all and sundry willy nilly. Revolutionaries advocate ‘no platform’ for fascists because they use their ‘right’ to demand the death of militant workers, especially the revolutionary leaders who are always the first to be assassinated. Revolutionaries confront fascism with overwhelming force whenever it raises is filthy head.

Not to do this, to attempt to ‘reason’ with fascism for fear that arming workers would confirm the ruling class bogey of violent revolution, only feeds fascism. The ruling class is armed to the teeth and will use these arms ruthlessly whether workers are armed or not. In every situation where workers were not armed or were not organised into defence militias, fascism has destroyed them.

While it is true that fascism is the last resort to smash proletarian revolution, submitting to pacifism is to die on our knees. Armed resistance is necessary to defeat fascism and to make that revolution possible, freeing humanity from the scourge not only of fascism but of the capitalist sewer that gives it life.

Leon Trotsky summary of key writing s on fascism: What is Fascism and How to Fight It.

reblogged from

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Abolish Prisons!

The NZ state announces another $1billion to be spent building another 1800 prison beds. Under capitalism prisons are part of a ‘justice system’ which criminalises workers by locking them up for petty crimes against property and persons while ‘white collar’ criminals if charged often get name suppression and home detention. While some other countries are getting over the war on drugs and punitive imprisonment, NZ is getting more draconian applying the “3 strikes and you’re out” viciousness of “Senseless Sentencing”. We say: organise workers’ power to stop the war on drugs, make jobs or all, pay a living wage, and abolish prisons!

Police and prisons and the (in)justice system all exists to protect the ruling class, to defend their property; “private property” (capitalist property). The overall function of their laws clearly results in the imprisonment of the working class (including unemployed) disproportionately, with youth and Maori particularly “over-represented” = harshly oppressed.

The history of colonisation was the introduction of capitalism in NZ. This included the theft by force from Maori (land wars and colonial laws, including confiscations) of Maori land (part of the means of production in an agricultural settler economy). The effect of losing lands (means of production) was also to turn Maori into a working class: reliant on waged slavery to survive.

The ruling class (capitalists) legal system was wholly to defend the ruling class: including their “entitlement” to lands.

Now a few Maori under Waitangi treaty settlements, are bought out with deals, and so have transformed into capitalists. The promise of tribal trickle-down $ to ordinary iwi members is not to be seen.

Prisons create a criminal class

The suicide rate in prisons is 10 times the general population rate – which for NZ is obscenely high. The harm that occurs in prisons is generally ignored. News media reports about “fight clubs” occurring, is an exception. Inhumane treatment of transgender woman in solitary confinement due to assaults in a men’s prison, is exposed mostly due to the campaigning of the “No Pride in Prisons” activist group. Inhumane treatment of a terminally ill woman, in the Wiri women’s prison is exposed due to the preparedness of family to campaign and speak out on her behalf in public media. The individual cases that make the media are worth of better treatment, however these are the rule in a prison system built on a model of control, punishment and vengeance.

And despite a focus on “reducing re-offending” (goal of 25% by 2017) the so-called “Department of Corrections” (responsible for running prisons and probation services) clearly fails to “reduce re-offending” faster than the state changes law and increases crimes and jail terms.

The recent announcement of needing to build another prison is in-part caused by the popularity of methamphetamine. The cash paydays available in manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine are attractive to anyone tired of working class condition (waged slavery) struggling for a decent reward. And of course, the drug itself provides a direct neural reward (short-term) that is a break from harsh realities of life under capitalist rule. Methamphetamine was re-classified class A (approx. 2003) which meant the (in)justice system has since then dealt out longer prison terms for manufacture and dealing. It also meant an overload in the High Court where Class A drug manufacture and supply cases are meant to be tried. So rather than maintain the pretence of justice, the State tipped the playing field and reduced trials by jury, reduced access to legal aid lawyers, and confiscated “private property” as “proceeds of crime”, without proof of economic gain.

A huge proportion of “crime” is drug related. Drug use itself is a symptom of the failure of capitalist society. Bruce K Alexander, in his 2008 book “the globalisation of addiction” described the rise of addiction with the rise of capitalism – which he calls neoliberalism.

Capitalism is alienating of the working class, tearing families apart, to deliver workers to capitalists where they want them. Capitalism fails to provide meaningful social connection. Under these conditions drugs are an alternative experience: an attractive escape. Recovery from addiction has been described not as abstinence from drugs but regaining social connection – even the old-school AA can be seen in this context as providing (meetings) opportunities for social connections (alternative to alcohol).

Capitalism benefits from the oppression of the working class through drug laws, and criminalisation of drug consumption. The gangs (and their drug distribution economy) are a socially necessary (for capitalism) counter-point to the existence of police. Gangs (and drug laws) provide a reason for the police to continue to exist; else the true mission of the police to protect capitalist property and the capitalist class would be exposed.

The capitalist state has twisted democracy further, by excluding prisoners from the right to vote. Given the class nature of the (in)justice system this was a blatant attack on the democratic rights of the working class.

Drug laws provide a mechanism for the capitalist class to oppress and discriminate against working class. The majority of people use drugs. It is much more likely that Maori, Poor and Unemployed will be convicted and sentenced more harshly: Compared to the Richer, Whiter, and those who can find an employer to vouch for their connection to capitalist production. CWG reviewed our position on drug laws and decided that drug (laws) should be under the control of the working class; not the capitalist class through their laws.

We have no confidence in capitalist laws being anything but a means for the capitalist class to oppress and control the working class. The criminalisation of people, forces many into unskilled jobs, poor wages (or subsistence wages with on-call work, casualization, “the precariat”). Few skilled jobs will accept anyone with a criminal conviction. This of course makes the easier money of criminal activities are more attractive earning options, which can perpetuate “re-offending”.

Socialist solutions

A goal of socialism would be to abolish prisons. There may be some offenders so damaged by abuse in their personal histories that they need a highly-structured environment like prison. However, they would be an exception rather than the norm. Most crime is property related, and if real work (socially necessary) is justly rewarded then much of the motivators of crime will be diminished.

Other crime is complex however social inequality and real relationships between people are more likely to rehabilitate faulty beliefs: than systems of punishment and vindictiveness. There may be a few capitalists, who don’t want to share their ill-gotten gains, that may need to be detained. However, a programme of real work and participation in socially necessary work programmes for the good of all people may be able to rehabilitate either of these groups of anti-socialists.

Restore the democratic rights of prisoners!

Abolish prisons!

Real Jobs with living wages for All!

Public works to build public transport by renewable energy!

Reduce the working week until there is full employment!

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