Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Urewera 18: Operation US$8 Billion Dollars!


The NZ bosses' state has finally recognised that the charges against 13 of the original Urewera 18 won't stand up because of evidence gathered by undercover police. Nor will the case of 'criminal conspiracy' hold up against the remaining 4. As we said at the time, 'Operation 8' as it was designated by the state, was no more than an attempt to prove to the US that NZ then under a Labour Government was 'tough on terrorism' in the US 'war on terror' that was unleashed after September 11, 2001. As this case collapses we note that today NZ now has SAS troops in Afghanistan acting as mercenaries for the US and its other imperialist allies. The current NACT government can hardly do more to prove its support for the US 'war for oil' in central Asia as it competes with the emerging imperialist power China. We reprint below our analysis of Operation 8 made at the time of the arrests, in Class Struggle, 75, Nov-Dec 2007.
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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 [in Aotearoa]. Anti-terror legislation is state repression of working class militants who are fighting back against US imperialism solving its crisis of falling profits by attacking the living standards and lives of NZ workers. Against the bosses’ terror workers must organise and unite internationally to meet the bosses’ offensive with our own workers’ offensive.

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 US imperialism and its Labour Government lackeys in NZ.

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 New Zealand based terrorist groups. The charges against them will now be under the Arms Act for possession of unlicensed firearms carrying less serious penalties. On Monday November the 12th the last of the 16 jailed political activists (one of the original 17 is on cannabis charges only) were released on bail.

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 Qaeda, 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 New Zealand semi-colonial regime is under pressure from US imperialism and is prepared to abolish bourgeois democratic rights and concentrate power in the Executive.

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 United States. We can see how, in the US, the interests of the ruling class can govern with either the Democrats or the Republicans. However, in a period of crisis when the ruling class must go onto the attack and cut workers’ living standards, it prefers a government that will tie the hands of the workers and contain their struggle within the bounds of bourgeois parliament. The Democratic Party is able to do this so long as it has the support of the union bureaucracy as one of the collection of lobby groups which go from the big unions all the way to the Southern Blue Democrats that are more racist than NZ First. Thus the role of the Democrats is to keep the labour movement subordinated to the program of US imperialism by keeping alive the illusion of a ‘democratic’ imperialist alternative to the Republican neo-cons.

Popular Front to contain the workers

The NZ Labour Party performs a similar role. However, [unlike the US Democrats] Labour Parties such as the British Labour Party under Blair and Brown, the NZ Labour Party under Clark, and European Social Democratic parties like the French Socialists and German SDP, were founded as parties of the trades unions for the specific purpose of tying the unions to parliament. With the end of the post-war boom Labour-type parties have moved to the right to stay in power and developed ‘right’ wings hostile to union influence. Today they are becoming more like the US Democratic Party and treat the unions as just another 'lobby' group.

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 Germany], Labour has had to compete with National to win the centre ground to prevent National from forming its own coalition government.

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 Alliance on the left for a majority. In 2002 it made and agreement with Dunne’s United Future centre-right party. In 2005 it made agreements with United Future, Winston Peters’ New Zealand First and the Greens. In effect, these coalitions are shifting popular fronts between the labour movement, the Centre-left of the Greens and the Centre-right of Peters and Dunne.

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 bourgeois workers party that enters into popular fronts 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.

Left Bureaucracy

The Left Bureaucracy's existence is required to contain those workers who want to fight US imperialism and the Labour Government. On the one hand, the left bureaucracy claims to be hostile to the ‘official’ labour bureaucracy and the Labour Government. But like the Alliance the Greens (many of whom came out of the Alliance) its strategy is always to push Labour to the left by doing deals at the top between the CTU and the Government.

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 Venezuela and Bolivia where leftwing populist governments are renegotiating terms of trade etc with imperialism to role back neo-liberalism and promote economic nationalism. This means that the majority can take over the state and use it as the instrument of popular power. Thus state power can be transformed by harnessing popular pressure from below to transform the capitalist state into a people’s state.

This was the strategy of the Labour Left dominated Civil Rights Defence Committee in Auckland against the arrest of the Urewera 16 [now 18]. Marches, petitions, pressure on Labour from the union bureaucracy to drop the charges, repeal the TSA etc. This led to an entirely unnecessary blow up at the Labour Party conference between Jill Ovens and Len Richards who had joined the Labour Party to pressure it to the left, and their former Alliance and Green allies who are pressuring the Government from the outside. The irony is that those outside relied on those inside who got the CTU to vote to repeal the TSA in October, and to call on the unions to sign a petition asking the Governnent to drop the charges, stop the passage of the Amendment Bill and repeal the TSA.

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 SWO-NZ and the Workers Party is to provide a splint to strengthen the wonky left leg. The SWO-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 Britain or the PSUV in Venezuela.

But such a 'new left' party is inherently a popular front and the role of the SWO-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!

In New Zealand, the CWG is the only party on the left that practices revolutionary Marxism. We are Trotskyist-Leninists! Our tradition and our program prepares us in the face of the popular front. We are part of an international grouping - the Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction (FLT - Fraccion Leninista-Trotskista) which has cadres fighting in most of the countries of Latin America against the gigantic popular front of the World Social Forum. For the FLT, populism in all its forms, is a life and death question since it ties the hands of workers while the fascists prepare to smash them as we see in Bolivia today (see Editorial). For that reason most of our energy is devoted to exposing the role of the Left Bureaucracy internationally in acting as a 'left cover' for the popular front in countries like Bolivia and Venezuela. Here we find the populist regimes of Morales and Chavez supported by a left leg of ex-Trotskyists, Maoists, Castroists and old Stalinists. In New Zealand, then, recognising the Labour Coalition as a popular front with its wobbly left leg strengthened with a fake Marxist splint comes easy to us. We have been kicked many times by that same left leg.

In New Zealand the Left Bureaucracy acts to perpetuate illusions in the Labour Government, not by operating inside the ERA and putting pressure on Labour by itself, but by preventing the struggle from developing outside parliament. If the TSA is seen to be 'unnecessary' and not part of a global bosses' offensive against indigenous and workers rights, then it can be reformed. If the Labour Government has 'over-reacted' for some reason; or the police and/or SIS were 'out of control'; or the US was imposing its 'war on terror' in an 'excessive' manner; then a bit of pressure from the ‘left’ can correct for this.

Revolutionaries, however, don't share such illusions. US imperialism needs its anti-terrorist laws to smash working class resistance to its crisis-driven plundering of land, labour and resources around the world. Therefore the purpose of a united front against 'Operation 8' is to mobilise workers to take up this struggle in the unions to prove that only rank and file control of the unions can defend workers against state terrorism and the imperialist crisis driving it. Class against class!

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 compensation, and under workers control!

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Statement of Bolivian workers
“Stop the State and Paramilitary repression in New Zealand!


The Bolivian Workers affiliated to our central organisation, the Central Obrera Boliviana, and regionally belonging to the Central Obrera Departmental condemn the brutal deliberate repression of the state and Government of New Zealand against against the workers and indigenous Maori people.

The repression unleashed on 15 October against fighters for liberation and sovereignty in this semicolony dominated by Australia and Britain, satellites of American imperialism, is intended to protect the economic interests of the privileged minority that exists in any capitalist country in the world, including Bolivia, who subject the majority of the people to the most miserable social and economic conditions .

The struggle of the brother and sister workers and people of New Zealand is not alone and has the backing and solidarity of the oppressed of the world. The epoch of the abuse and plunder that imperialist capitalism has enjoyed has led inexorably to the differences between this minority and the poor in the world to become more and more abysmal and inhuman.

We have no alternative but to replace the corrupt and degenerate world capitalist sytem with a system where the majorities have the right to decide their future by redistributing wealth among all the peoples who are its inhabitants –a system where human rights are fundamental and not for the profits of an irrational and unlimited capitalism. This system can not be anything less than socialism, inspired by the the most human and patriotic setniments. The dilemma facing humanity is Socialism or the reign of Barbarism “

Oruro, November 9, 2007
!Long live the struggle of the people of New Zealand against recolonialism!
!Longt live the struggle of the peoples of the world against degenerate capitalist society!
!For the victory of the socialist revolution and construction of the new society and the new man!

For the Central Obrera Deparamental In Oruro
C.O.D. Founded 1st May 1953. Affiliate of the C.O.B. Oruro – Bolivia

FSTMB, Oruro (Miners); FED FABRILES (factory workers); FUSTCO (office workers); FED. Constructores (construction workers); FED. SALUD (Health workers); FED. MAG. URB (Teachers city); FED MAG. RURAL (rural teachers); FESTRATEV (Transport workers); RED. RENT. JUB. (retired workers); FUL. (University students); FES (Secondary students); FED. EST. NOL (Teachers College Students); CASEGURAL (Local govt workers); SIND. OOPP (taxi drivers); SIND. MUNICIPALES); ENTEL (telephone); ECOBOL; SINTRAUTO; COTEOR (postal); DIM.ENASA; SELA; ASOC. RED. MIN (retired miners); PRENSA (media); DESOCUPADOS (unemployed) SEPCAM and ACMPD (campesinos).

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