In the aftermath of Operation 8, which cost around NZ$8 million, we argue that it was designed to guarantee the security of around US$8 billion in profits a year to US corporates. Anti-terror legislation is state repression of working class militants who are fighting back against
Operation 8 million!
On October 15, under what they called ‘Operation 8’, the police and intelligence services raided a number of homes and arrested 17 political activists in an attempt to charge them under the Terrorism Suppression Act [TSA]. Police sources claimed that indigenous Maori activist Tame Iti and 16 others had been conducting 'military-style training camps' in the remote Ureweras (mountainous and heavily forested region on the East of the North Island of New Zealand). Most of those arrested were denied bail and kept in jail while the police collected evidence to press charges under the TSA.
The reformist and so-called socialist left in New Zealand blamed these arrests on police 'over-reaction' in using the anti-terrorist legislation enacted as part of the US-led 'war on terror'. They tried to pressure the Labour Coalition government to release the prisoners and repeal the TSA. The Communist Workers Group was the only organisation to state clearly that these arrests were a deliberate move by the NZ state to suppress the rise of working class resistance to US imperialist attacks on NZ workers to pay for the global economic crisis. It was no accident that the main target of these arrests was land rights activists who were fighting US, EU and Japanese corporate exploitation of the NZ economy to extract super-profits. The CWG called for workers to go on the offensive to oppose
On Thursday, November 8, the Solicitor-General (top state legal officer) said that the evidence the police brought was insufficient to prove that the 16 “intended” to commit terrorist acts, and suggested that the Labour Government “review” the TSA since it was not able to be used against
Thus the first use of the TSA had for the moment ended with the failure to bring any charges under it. This did not stop the Government from rushing through the TSA Amendment Bill however. While the Government also agreed to send the TSA to the Law Commission for review, the amended law can continue to be used to counter ‘terror’ in NZ. The
TSA was first enacted in 2002 in response to the UN resolution following 9-11. It is designed primarily to be used against terrorist groups designated by the UN such as Al Qeda, Taliban, Hamas, etc. It shares the same features as the US Patriot Act. Suspects can be arrested and held without bail for as long as it takes to present evidence. Accused may never see the evidence used against them for 'security' reasons. However, in response to the Solicitor-General’s decision on the present case, the state will move quickly to close any loopholes in the TSA.
Tougher on Terrorism?
The enactment of the Amendment Bill makes the Prime Minister, currently Labour's Helen Clark, responsible for designating terrorist groups, including in New Zealand, and removes the necessity for the state to prove that any accused must 'intend' to commit a 'terrorist act'. Thus the Prime Minister will now become responsible for hearing appeals and not the Court of Appeal. This means that the Executive branch of government increases its powers to oversee state security, which makes the rights of citizens before the courts very much more limited. It is an indication that the
Labour is intent on proving that it is tougher on terrorism than National. Its populist 'brand' differentiation requires that it brings the 'left' –the unions affiliated to it and the Centre-left Maori Party and Greens –along with the openly bourgeois parties of Peters and Dunne. Labour is letting its attack dogs, Peters and Dunne, off the leash to mobilise the racist redneck constituency against the 'wreckers and haters', just as Muldoon fed an earlier generation of attack dogs on the meat of the anti-Springbok Tour protest movement.
This is what Labour has to do to “lock in” its cross-class majority and get the endorsement of the Bush government and the powerful imperialist ruling class in the
Popular Front to contain the workers
The NZ Labour Party performs a similar role. However, Labour Parties such as the British Labour Party under Blair and Brown, the NZ Labour Party under
In NZ, the Labour Party almost overnight jettisoned its union connections during 1984-1987 when it enacted its neo-liberal reforms. It had regained much of this union base by 1993 but much of its ‘right’ wing defected to other parties in the centre or the far right ACT party. While Labour had rebuilt most of its links to the unions with the repeal of the anti-union ECA in 2000, this base does not guarantee a majority of votes to govern. That is why, under the MMP proportional representation system [modelled on that in
Under MMP, since 1999 the NZ Labour Party has led governments that depend on coalitions with parties to its right. In its first term it relied on the Greens in the centre and the
The result is a 'populist' coalition government –i.e. a popular front –that tries to reconcile the class interests of the working class with the petty bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie. The pivot in this class collaboration is the labour bureaucracy in the unions and in the parliamentary party. The tradition of union officials becoming Labour MPs is a long one that goes right back to Labour's foundation in 1916. The leaders of the Labour Party have always come out of the union movement to facilitate the unions’ subordination to the state. Today the recipients of this latest award for treachery are EPMU national president Don Pryde who is lined up to take over Benson-Pope’s Dunedin seat, and EPMU national secretary Andrew Little who is talking himself up to standing for Labour.
Trouble is that the EPMU is widely held to be a Labour Party stooge in the labour movement, being an early advocate of the 'partnership' of unions and the Labour Party, notoriously quiet on the Employment Contracts Act in 1991, drafter of the Employment Relations Act as the 'bureaucracy's charter', and a predator on smaller unions, whose policy is to always negotiate behind the backs of the membership to cut done deals.
If the Labour Government is to fulfil its mission as a popular front it has to have a more attractive bait than the EPMU to lure the new layers of militant workers who are beginning to stand up to the leg-iron of the ERA. This is the task of the 'left bureaucracy' of the ex-Stalinists, ex-Maoists and fake Trotskyists who now dominate the leadership of the National Distribution Union, Unite and Service and Food Workers Union.
The Left Bureaucracy's existence is required to contain those workers who want to fight
Just as the Alliance proposed to push Labour to the left in parliament to counter the centrist agreements with the Greens, NZ First and United Future, today the remnants of the Alliance who are in control of the NDU, SFWU and Unite are proposing to use the revival of the unions to pressure Labour to the left. Here it follows the political strategy of the World Social Forum of ‘globalisation from below’.
On economic issues, the Left Bureaucracy is anti-neoliberal. Its model is based on the populist regimes of
This was the strategy of the Labour Left dominated Civil Rights Defence Committee in
The Left Bureaucracy, then, is the slightly wobbly left leg of the popular front carefully containing the militancy in the labour movement to put 'pressure' on the Labour Government. In this the role of the SW-NZ and the Workers Party is to provide a splint to strengthen the wonky left leg. The SW-NZ has almost liquidated itself into what it hopes will become a 'new left' party in NZ i.e. a 'united front of a special kind' such as Respect in
But such a 'new left' party is inherently a popular front and the role of the SW-NZ is to camouflage this front with its supposed 'socialist' politics. The Workers Party performs a similar role to the SWP. It attracts militants pissed off with Labour but at the same time stops them from breaking with the left bureaucracy the ERA.
Break from the Left Bureaucracy!
Revolutionaries, however, don't share such illusions.
The way to break workers from trade union economism [a fixation on parliamentary solutions] is to rally the rank and file to take charge of their economic disputes and to break out of the leg-iron of the ERA.
Only strong, fighting, democratic unions run by the members can defeat the bosses' attacks on our living standards and our lives. Let us not forget that every day workers die in this country from the 'complications' of capitalism - poor health, old diseases like TB, rampant epidemics like Diabetes, poverty and homelessness, and young people's lives destroyed by alienation, and as the French say, 'precarite'.
The way to break workers from the populism of Labour and other reformist parties is to build fighting, democratic unions to strike against state terror and to occupy and expropriate capitalist property, through nationalisations under workers control without compensation to the capitalists.
Return stolen land to Maori!
Return Foreshore and Seabed resources to Maori control!
Nationalise Fonterra under working Farmers and Workers Control!
Re-nationalise privatised state assets like Air NZ, rail, forestry, fishing!
Re-nationalise state corporations like power companies and privatised assets like Airports and Ports!
Nationalise capitalist assets in land, forestry, industry, transport and finance, with no compensatio, and under workers control!