Sunday, December 08, 2013
LABOUR VS CAPITAL
Our position of giving critical support for the Labour Party is to vote for it to put it in government to prove to workers that no Labour-led Government however left-wing will be able to legislate to meet the demands and needs of workers. Social Democracy sows illusions in a peaceful, egalitarian, environmentally friendly capitalism. There is no such animal. Capitalism is brutal, barbaric and destructive especially in the epoch of imperialism. Already we see that Cunliffe’s promises of reforms are hedged around with financial constraints imposed not by ‘neo-liberalism’, but by capitalism itself. Will Labour challenge NZs status as an economic semi-colony of the US and China in its position on the TPPA, Oil and Coal and asset sales, GCSB and TICS, SkyCity casino capitalism, and ‘disaster capitalism’ in Christchurch. Will Labour recognise the role that the working class plays in creating the nation’s wealth and stand up and fight for the unions and workers by implementing full employment, a living wage, welfare rights, pensions etc? Right now the Labour Party represents Capital’s profits expropriated from Labour. What is needed is a revolutionary socialist party that will socialise capitalist property under the ownership and control of the working class and create a planned socialist society.
TPPA and the coming US/CHINA war
To implement a sustainable economic policy, NZ would have to regain its economic sovereignty over the ownership and control of its resources. The TPPA is the most dangerous threat to such a national strategy. The TPPA is a tool of recolonisation by US to keep China out of the Pacific. Extending the power of crisis-ridden US imperialism into whole Pacific to recolonise Pacific and to simultaneously block Chinas bid for a regional TPA, and also gain more access to China’s internal market. That’s why it’s the US state taking over every other Pacific state as a means of taking over the Chinese state. It’s a showdown of the two giants of capitalism as the US declines and China rises. .
The US is in decline as its economic power wanes and its dollar ceases to be the only world currency. This is because a currency propped up by oil is being challenged by the Yuan which is based on China’s expanding productive capacity. The US wants to grab onto China to halt its decline. It has done so with one hand – the offshoring of manufacturing to Asia. But to grab with two hands it has to break into China’s economic sovereignty, especially the dominance of its SOEs.
Its strategy is to restrict China’s growth while at the same time sharing in it. By blocking China from the TPPA it puts China at a disadvantage. Yet the US corporations in those states that already have TPAs with China can piggyback into China on equal terms. Both US and Japan are big producers inside China within the free trade zones, but they want to extend into the state sector, especially in privatising the SOEs.
The Labour Party’s position so far is to take credit for the TPPA! It is acting as a US lackey in a US imperialist drive against its No 1 trading partner, China! Its position is that it will not agree to an agreement that is secret. Its position should be that it will reserve the right to unilaterally leave a TPPA that is signed in secret. Otherwise the Labour Party is signing away what is left of NZs national sovereignty and signing up the NZ working class to a war between the US and China in the near future!
Carbon, Assets and Climate Collapse
Oil drilling and coal mining is a litmus test of Labour’s economic and climate change policy. Will it go with the NACT line of the global capitalist economy wherever it pushes profits in NZ, or will it opt for a state-managed sustainable economic growth such as that of the Greens? Labour is torn internally between short-term jobs driven growth and longer-term sustainable growth. It is trying to suppress this conflict in its position on oil drilling by opposing it until it is proven safe. But just as like its position opposing mining on conservation land, this evades the larger issue of climate change. There is no way that burning carbon can protect jobs now let alone in the future. The NACTs rip, shit and bust quarry mentality destroys jobs as well as the environment. On the other hand the Greens reforms don’t have the social support to win. The issue of global warming is now one of human survival where capitalism as a system is destroying our future. Labour needs to rally its working class base to take control of the issue and make stopping climate collapse the heart of its economic development program.
A real Labour Party would recognise that climate collapse is a crisis many times more life threatening than the depression of the 1930s. What it needs is an emergency program to meet this crisis. First and foremost, the ownership and control of energy production should be socialised under workers control with no compensation to the owners of privatised state assets. These assets should then be developed into 100% renewables (hydro, solar, wind, biomass etc). Energy efficiency and conservation should be the criteria for all industrial and agricultural production. State producer boards should plan and regulate the major industries on the basis of sustainability as well as health and safety. Problems with key industries such as a ‘dirty dairying’ would be regulated and state subsidies would become the basis of state shareholdings or cooperatives. The imperative of sustainability would bring a slow socialisation of the economy with the workers and independent producers along with the state sharing in the true costs and benefits of production.
GCSB and TICS
These laws are major challenges to NZ’s economic sovereignty which means increasing dominance by imperialist US and China. Yet Labour has always bought into spying on behalf of its imperialist masters. From the SIS ‘reds under the bed’ on behalf of the UK and US to the GCSB and the ‘war against terror’ justifying the US global rule of terror. State spying serves only the rule of capital. Specifically the great powers use spying to advance their economic and political interests over their rivals. Loewenstein in Guardian updates NSAs latest global spy network of which NZ is a ‘US team player’. So the Labour Party’s demand that NZs spy role be subject to an inquiry does not challenge the assumption that secret state spying is necessary. If a true Labour Party is to represent the interests of Labour against Capital here is what its policy should be.
First, a true Labour Party would challenge the view that the interests of Labour and Capital can be reconciled - crony capitalism is not an aberration but the norm. It would reject an official inquiry and set up an independent workers inquiry into spying. Second, it would abolish all state spying on its citizens, close down its installations, refuse to participate in spy networks with other states, and instead set up a public Tribunal where any accusations of spying could be heard. The decisions of the Inquiry and the Tribunal would be made by delegates elected to represent the views of workers, women, youth, indigenous, social and environmental groups that comprise the broad labour movement.
SkyCity and Casino Capitalism
Symptomatic of how decadent the NZ capitalist class is, is Skycity. The NACTs are so cynical that they will pay out of workers taxes for Skycity to build its ‘entertainment’ precinct in Auckland to fleece tourists and workers all, on the promise of ‘more jobs’. On the basis of this cost-benefit analysis, all the costs fall on the workers and all the benefits go to the parasites.
Yet the Labour Party does not challenge Casino Capitalism at its heart, the global financial capitalist class that parasitically lives off the working class driving down their wages to increase their profits and then cynically exploiting their poverty by encouraging them to gamble. After all this is a metaphor for the way global capitalism in crisis works: stagnation of real growth combined with massive speculative booms parasitic on growth. Labour needs to declare its intention to revoke NACTs corrupt deal with SkyCity and ultimately to revoke its casino licence.
If Labour is serious about going back to its working class roots then its role in ChCh is a test of that. Labour voted for the sacking of CERA which imposed a rip, shit and bust rebuild similar to the sacking of ECAN to boost the profits of Canterbury dairy farmers. Has Labour had a change of heart? Cunliffe announced Labour’s decision to set up KiwiAssure attached to Kiwibank. Will this meet the need for a state insurer of disasters? Not if KiwiAssure is just another insurance Co like Kiwibank is just another bank. KiwiAssure needs to be a comprehensive no fault insurer of disasters and funded on the model of ACC Otherwise Labour is filling a gap rather than coming to grips with the larger question of the NACTs ‘disaster capitalism’ model in Christchurch. Where is the workers’ alternative based on a return to democracy and a comprehensive plan for the rebuild? Unless Labour steps up with major proposals it will have abdicated any leadership of its historic constituency in Christchurch.
Pensions pensioned off?
ACTs neoliberal pension policy was adopted by Labour just before the 2011 election! The retirement age should come down to 60 not go up to 67.The generational argument is a red herring (making Labour’s red rather fishy) Society is more productive every year, yet the proportion of the increase that goes to labour decreases. The result is that capital creams it while workers are expected to work longer for lower wages and low pension (if they survive). The Labour Party should take a stand on principles not affordability (neo-liberal bullshit about balancing the budget while taxes on capital decrease). Labour produces the wealth. The working lifespan should decrease as productivity rises. Taxes on the rising share of capital should increase. The state can easily fund a living pension for a longer retirement from age 60. The irony is that a Labour Government led by Cunliffe who has spoken of renouncing neo-liberalism, has adopted the ACT policy of increasing the age of retirement so that workers work more productively and longer for a diminishing share of the wealth they produce.
From Welfare to Workfare
The Cunliffe Govt appeals to the memory of the Labour Party of Mickey Savage of the 1930s. That government was under such pressure from unemployed and destitute farmers that it responded with a social security package as a right of citizenship. It recognised that it was the capitalist economy and not an 'underclass' that was to be blamed for unemployment and poverty. The Blairite 4th Labour Government retreated to the neo-liberal view of social security as a personal responsibility that has to be earned. Labour has remained silent on the NACTs slashing of welfare since failing to restore Ruthless Richardson's benefit cuts of 1991, all the way to Paula Bennett's abusive workfare reforms today. While David Shearer was briefly Labour leader he displayed this underclass prejudice with his reference to the 'beneficiary on the roof'. Will a Cunliffe-led Labour Party break with this neo-liberal workfare history?
A true Labour Party would return to the social welfare as a right of Savage’s day and abolish all workfare measures introduced since the 1970s. First, it would implement full employment and job creation by public works. Free health, education and housing would be paid for by a 100% capital gains tax on all property and assets. It would create a UBI based on a living wage and administered by the unions as a right whether one is working or not. Even outright capitalists like Gareth Morgan argue that a living UBI is more profitable for bosses than growing inequality and poverty. These measures would help to recognise the working class as the creators of wealth and shift the blame for NZs economic recolonisation by the US and China off the ‘’underclass’ and back onto the decadent, parasitic and rapacious capitalist class that is destroying Aotearoa.
Revolutionary Labour Party
Is the Labour Party capable of standing up for Labour against Capital? It is the very nature of the party that it has the main contradiction between Capital and Labour running through it. Capital is devoted to exploiting workers for profits, while Labour (not the Party!) is devoted to securing a share of the value it produces as a living wage. But such is the crisis of capitalism today all attempts at reconciling these objectives will fail. Profits must drive down living standards and destroy jobs and lives. Labour to live must challenge Capital’s right to rule by socialising all the essential resources that are necessary for life and for the survival of the species. The Labour Party will split sooner or later into those who defend Capital, and those who are defend Labour.