|Dirty Politics: a must read for every man and woman|
What this reveals is a concentration of power in the state engaged in mass surveillance and covert propaganda which can be deployed to prevent any serious challenge to this power through the parliamentary system. Is this an anomaly of ‘abnormal’ power, a one party state, or rogue state that can be fought and corrected by a democratic opposition, or is it the ‘new normal’ form that the capitalist state takes when economic crisis begins to threaten its legitimacy? We argue that ‘Dirty Politics’ is normal in what we call the Bonapartist state.
The states subversion of parliamentThe victory of National in the election was not due a democratic process that gave National a fair majority over the opposition parties, but the intervention of a Bonapartist state. We will demonstrate that ‘dirty politics’, mass surveillance, corruption, abuse of power etc are only symptoms of such a state. First we define Bonapartism then we look at the conditions that give rise to Bonapartism.
We go back to the Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky to define Bonapartism. He described this form of state supplanting parliamentary democracy during the crisis of capitalism in the 1930s as a concentration of state power in the hands of a "Bonaparte" figurehead projecting himself as standing above the class struggle, in order to hold back the rise of the revolutionary proletariat. If this failed to stem the revolution the ruling class was then forced to resort to fascism. Trotsky defined fascism as the last resort of the bourgeoisie to smash the revolution. The bourgeoisie provoked the angry petty bourgeoisie threatened with bankruptcy by the crisis to organise a fascist movement on the streets to fight and smash the working class.
So Bonapartism as the attempt to hold the fort and keep the people at bay requires a new state regime that subverts democracy and subordinates parliament, the bureaucracy, the judiciary and all the repressive and ideological apparatuses (such as the GCSB, police, media, schools etc) to the Chief Executive, (President, Military leader, or Prime Minister) concentrating power into the hands of figurehead that ‘stands above the classes’ and appears to personify the unitary state.
The pre-conditions for Bonapartism are then: first, the global economy facing a structural crisis of falling profits and a huge slump in which the main imperialist powers have to resort to war to survive. Today, we can see that the global capitalist crisis is a structural crisis that threatens its existence. The major imperialist powers are coming up against the limits of peak energy and climate change and facing rising mass resistance. The global economy faces stagnation and slump along with climate catastrophe.
Moreover, the competition over diminishing economic returns is taking the form of a dangerous rivalry between the declining US power bloc and that of the rising China Russia bloc expressed in proxy wars and US/NATO containment of Russia and China. The game is up when the IMF is calling on state aid for crippled capitalism and the OECD projections for capitalism over next 50 years is a long decline exacerbated by climate change.
Climate change and economic stagnationThis comes as no surprise to Marxists as capitalism has exhausted its potential to play any progressive role in developing humanity and must give way to either socialism or barbarism. All of this should be enough to prove that capitalism is doomed, posing the question whether we as a species are doomed with it. Is there hope? According to Paul Mason “The OECD has a clear message for the world: for the rich countries, the best of capitalism is over. For the poor ones – now experiencing the glitter and haze of industrialisation – it will be over by 2060...The OECD’s prescription – more globalisation, more privatisation, more austerity, more migration and a wealth tax if you can pull it off – will carry weight. But not with everybody. The ultimate lesson from the report is that, sooner or later, an alternative programme to “more of the same” will emerge. Because populations armed with smartphones, and an increased sense of their human rights, will not accept a future of high inequality and low growth.”
Second, Aotearoa/NZ cannot escape this fate. Capitalism faces the twin crises of a declining economy and climate collapse. To survive, it must exploit nature to death and bring about human extinction. For humans to survive we must destroy capitalism and save nature. Capital in NZ is also battering down the hatches for a showdown. As a declining semi-colony (some would say de facto state) of the US, with its economy dependent on China, there is a rat-race to grab NZ's resources before they are destroyed by profiteers or expropriated by the impoverished worker/peasants. NZ's semi-raw commodity exports are subject to collapsing prices, while capital exports to the Aussie banks and US and China corporate soar. This leads inexorably to a mounting national debt that must be paid for by the working class. As living standards plummet expect rising social protests challenging the legitimacy of the NACT Bonapartist regime.
Fighting BonapartismAs we saw demonstrated in the recent election in New Zealand, the trampling of democracy, corruption, ‘dirty politics’, media capture and so on, are all symptoms of this Bonapartism of the state. So in the light of this, it is defence of democratic freedoms that are the key political question right now. Bonapartism leading to fascism can have only one response from any party that claims to represent the poor and oppressed and that is active defence of these freedoms as a precondition for any social justice.
None of the Left except Internet/Mana picked up on this and brought the fight for democracy (internet freedom) together with social justice (feed the children). Only Internet/Mana kept the pressure on Key by staging 'The Moment of Truth' event where Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange appeared by live link alongside the crusading journalist Glenn Greenwald live on stage to claim that the NZ spy agency GCSB was engaged in mass spying on NZ via its partnership with the NSA. While this forced Key to admit that this was "possible" neither Hager’s book nor Dotcom’s evidence was the ‘smoking gun’ that the Right and Corporate Media demanded as proof that Key was spying and lying.
Key could protest his innocence only by virtue of state secrecy as the chief executive of a Bonapartist state where Cabinet dominates all branches of government and the so-called Fourth Estate, the Corporate Media. What we have here then are revelations about how the NZ state operates today to spy and lie to the people in order to maintain social order and control over the economy, yet that state has the power to prevent these revelations from destabilising its regime.
Instead of taking Key head-on over his subversion of parliamentary democracy, the rest of the Left including Labour fell for the narrative of the Bonapartist state of sacrificing democracy (denial of Dirty Politics and whitewash inquiries after the election) for the sake of business as usual (stagnation and trickledown) and joined in demonising Internet/Mana on the basis of the Right whipping up public envy, racism and chauvinism. Labour and the Greens instead of fighting the election on Dirty Politics blamed it for their failure to get their policies heard.
As the global crisis deepens and as the class gap widens Labour will split and out of its ashes will come the working class party or parties that are needed to defend workers and oppressed people from the destruction of economic and climate collapse caused by the historic decline of capitalism. Revolutionaries fight to further this process by raising a Transitional Program in the parties of the working class to defend democracy and raise immediate demands for decent jobs, pay, health, education, housing and a healthy environment. As a result of coming up against a Bonapartist state, and being faced with the prospect of a fascist movement, it becomes clear they must build workers councils and self-defence against the regime's thugs, and fight for a Workers' Government that is capable of expropriating the capitalists and creating a planned economy.