Sunday, April 29, 2012

Archive 1982: Towards a Socialist Polynesia

2004 Foreshore and Seabed Hikoi

(1) Racism, Marxism and Internationalism

New Zealand’s massive demonstrations against the Springbok Tour in 1981 became, especially in Auckland, demonstrations of Polynesian protest against racism. In spite of every effort by Halt All Racist Tours (HART) leaders and the Workers’ Communist League (WCL) and the loyal opposition of ‘labour left’, it proved impossible to limit the struggle against racism to South African apartheid. The slogans directed against South Africa were also directed against the New Zealand government’s racist policies at home. ‘Protesting’ every inch of the way, the HART leaders were forced to accept that the struggles against racism in South Africa and New Zealand were both part of the same international struggle against racism.

So long as South African racism alone was attacked, postures of moral outrage could be adopted and political issues avoided. The New Zealand movement refused to even discuss the political differences between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan African Congress (PAC). Once it could no longer be denied that racism was at home and alive and well in Queen St., the need to bring the South African struggle home forced the movement to rub its nose in grubby politics. Turning moral outrage against Bantustans into moral outrage at the oppression of Maori people, black radicals adopted the positions of the PAC, hiding behind Protestant morality and issuing ultimatums that the ‘black movement’ should be given the same uncritical support as that HART gave to the ANC/PAC.

This is not only a means of avoiding political debate about the relationship between race and class, but of keeping democracy out of the anti-racist movement. Without political debate on the character of racism in Aotearoa, its relation to capitalism, and the working class, white militants turning toward anti-racist working class internationalism, away from single-issue moralism, will not move forward.

Just as the entire South African left has chosen, is choosing, and will chose between the opposed political lines of ANC and PAC (and also the Non-European Unity Movement) so, at a time when a mass movement in Aotearoa is forced to take a stand on New Zealand racism, it must face political choices between different political lines. The same choices present themselves, essentially as on the pakeha left, between populism and Marxism, but it is always populism which tries to avoid debate and political struggle.

The anti-racist movement will grow powerful and break the alliance Muldoon tried to forge with the backward sections of the working class during the Tour only by making New Zealand racism towards its own Bantustans in the Pacific and at home an issue with workers. That involves raising, debating and resolving the relationship between race and class – the issue which ‘Black Unity’ evades in every way at every point. The task is to bring the South African war back home by showing that racism is an international creation of imperialism, and that it can only be brought to an end by the international working class.

“Communists” wrote Marx, “are distinguished from other working class parties by this alone: in the national struggles of the proletarians of all the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality, in the various stages of development which the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interest of the movement as a whole.” (Communist Manifesto)

The working class of this area of the Pacific, Polynesia, is made up of both Pakehas and Polynesians. They work in the same factories, queue for the same unemployment benefits, and live in the same boarding houses. Their interests are common interests; their fight against imperialism, capitalism in its epoch of parasitism and decay, is a common fight. In the South Pacific, the working class cannot develop a clear consciousness of its interests and goals outside the framework of working class internationalism. Against imperialism and its class collaborators, the Spartacist League opposes the revolutionary tradition, the tradition of the Communist Manifesto, the tradition of working class internationalism.

In this pamphlet, the Spartacist League puts forward its position on the question of racism and capitalism. We oppose those white ‘left’ chauvinist groups like the Socialist Unity Party and the Workers’ Communist League, who suppress the history of the Polynesian working classes and subordinate the national rights of Polynesians to a white-racist, reformist, programme to “fight racism”. We oppose just as firmly the petty-bourgeois black populists who too turn their backs on the proletarian history of their peoples, in order to establish “sovereignty” on capitalism’s terms. We also oppose those radical groups like HART, the Socialist Action League and the Republican Movement, who in giving their uncritical support to black populism, also give their support to imperialism’s attempts to deepen divisions in the working class in order to smash working class internationalism. The Spartacist League is uncompromising in exposing those forms of petty-bourgeois chauvinism, and we expect to be called all sorts of names for doing so. But let them be called in public debate, and the real issues argued. 


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Marx is Right, Again!

Is Marxism a new anti-viral drug prescribed by bourgeois spin doctors to keep the revolution at bay? Is Marx the new black and white? Why is it that Marx is the only thinker to explain what is happening to the capitalist system today? More and more bourgeois thinkers are asking that question. They have a struggle to understand Marx. In their haste to rob his grave they usually find Keynes body. Who was the real Marx? Does he have the magic bullet for the global capitalist crisis today? No, if we think Marx is Keynes and can save capitalism. Yes, if we mean he explains that capitalism has exhausted itself and is ready to give birth to socialism.

Marx discovered the laws of motion of capitalism much as Copernicus discovered the Earth’s orbit, Newton gravity and Einstein, relativity. He therefore made the definitive scientific analysis of capitalism. He advanced beyond the discoveries of Adam Smith and David Ricardo and left a legacy that is rich in its development by his successors like Kautsky, Lenin and Trotsky. But Marx’s science of capitalism was revolutionary in its implications predicting its end and replacement by socialism. So Marxism as a scientific theory was constantly challenged by neo-classical economic theory in his lifetime. Marx called this ‘vulgar’ political economy because it reverted to a crude ideological simplification of the classical theories of Smith and Ricardo (and Marx in one sense) as a market theory of value.

On the left Marx main rivals were first, the Proudhonists who mistook money to be the main problem of capitalism. In Aotearoa Te Whiti developed a similar view, blaming colonisation on the worship of money. But money was only the universal measure of the labour value of all commodities the basis of capitalist production. The Proudhonists treated the symptom not the cause and could not develop a revolutionary critique of capitalism. Marx was right then.

Second, were the anarchists around Bakunin who were expelled from the first Communist International after the Paris Commune in 1871 over the dictatorship of the proletariat. They opposed the working class forming a centralised workers state after the revolution. Marx critiqued anarchism as incapable of destroying the bourgeois state and therefore open to joining it. Anarchists subsequently participated in revolutions and despite their hostility to the state joined in bourgeois government as in Spain in 1936. Marx was right then too.

Third, Marxism itself was exposed to various schools of revisionists like Lassalle who backslid from value theory to exchange theory and reformism. In his own life time he disowned these so-called ‘marxists’ including his own son-in-law Paul Lafargue. He was right then, again.

Today these ersatz ‘marxists’ follow in the footsteps of legions of others from Bernstein to Stalin who have distorted or dragged Marxism in the mud. Wallerstein, Zizek et al talk about the current world situation without reference to the basics of Marxism and ignore the historical dynamics of the bourgeois and socialist revolutions! Marx is still right today.

And finally there are those who come back to Marx to join the “He’s back!”bandwagon claiming Marx was right all along. But this doesn’t mean he is right for the right reason when the Marx of the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ is ‘updated’ to be more presentable to the ‘middle class’, as in Terry Eagleton, or others celebrating Marx new found resonance with the 'chattering class'. 

So keeping the Marxist legacy alive was always a battle both with those who defected as well as its traditional enemies. Sometimes these were the same person as in Kautsky, the main German defender of Marx until the Russian revolution which he repudiated. Wars and revolutionary crisis tested Marxist orthodoxy to the limit; some regressed like Kautsky, some became victims of their failure to build a Bolshevik-type party like Luxemburg and Gramsci, some vacillated as centrists like Trotsky, and others remained steadfast like Lenin.

Bolsheviks and Mensheviks

The Great Imperialist War was the first major test of Marxism that found the 2nd International wanting. The big majority betrayed Marxism and backed their capitalist classes sending their workers to kill one another. A tiny minority, the Zimmerwald Left around Lenin and Luxemburg defended Marx and Engel’s internationalism and kept a living link to Marx that carried over to the Bolshevik Revolution.

This revolution was the supreme test of Marxist orthodoxy because it necessitated a major change in Marxist theory at a time when Marxism taught that socialist revolution would arise only in the developed industrial capitalist countries. Karl Kautsky was the main defender of this position which we call Menshevik. Lenin and Trotsky became the main critics giving rise to a new flowering of Marxism as a program for revolution not limited to particular countries but of the global capitalist system. We call that position Bolshevik. Luxemburg and Gramsci took positions close to the Bolsheviks although they arrived late at the need for a Bolshevik party. Had Luxemburg lived, she would have become close to the Bolsheviks of Lenin and Trotsky. Gramsci however shifted from left to right like a centrist and during his years in jail moved away from the Bolshevik camp.

Lenin and Trotsky developed Marxism by applying the dialectical method. They understood the material basis of ‘backwardness’ as a one-sided aspect of global capitalism. There could be a revolution in a backward country but there could never be socialism in one country alone. Kautsky and Luxemburg couldn’t see it. Kautsky rejected a revolution in backward Russia outright. Luxemburg said that the revolution in Russia was premature because the conditions were lacking for realising socialism after the revolution. Gramsci developed a crude typology of backwardness and types of revolution justifying the October revolution and eventually Stalinist revolution in one country.

While the Bolshevik revolution sorted the Bolsheviks from the Mensheviks it left the non-Marxists floundering in its wake. They failed to understand the contradictions of Russia and the revolution, and wound up on the counter-revolutionary side. The Proudhonists had become Fabians who wanted to nationalise the banks. They mistook the Bolsheviks for state socialists. The Webbs went to Russia in the 1930s and lauded Stalin. The anarchists welcomed the October Revolution but then quickly rejected the single party state. They sided with the Peasant leader Makhno against the Red Army during the civil war, and backed the sailors of Kronstadt who staged an insurrection against the state for new elections without the Bolshevik party.

Logically, then these opponents of Bolshevism had become anti-Marxists and counter-revolutionaries adding to the isolation and defeat of the revolution in Russia. Therefore they have no credibility in events since then including the attempts by Marxists to defend the Russian revolution from degeneration under Stalin, the defence of the Spanish Revolution, the fight against fascism, the tactics against social democracy etc.

In class terms these currents are petty bourgeois. Their view of capitalism is one of unequal exchange where the capitalists cheat workers of part of the value of their wage. It falls to the petty bourgeois to correct this by reforming the state. We call this petty bourgeois current that uses Marx’s name in vain centrists.

Reformists and Centrists

Trotsky defined centrism as those currents that vacillate between revolution and reform. In reality any shortfall from revolution makes you a reformist. But centrism tries to disguise this fact with Marxist phrases. So ‘born-again marxist’ Wall St journalists who claim that Marx was right about capitalism but wrong about socialism, are liberal reformists posturing as centrists, distorting and neutralising the revolutionary heritage of Marxism. We can dispense with them as impostors. They are saying that capitalism has to be saved from those who corrupt it. Centrists who hold this position mask it as anti-capitalism based on equalising exchange. David Harvey’s take on Marxism is very popular among centrist groups because while it argues that the crisis is caused by a surplus of capital, it is caused by ‘feral’ capitalism that ‘loots’ wealth (unequal exchange). So the political conclusions he draws are about reforming the unequal distribution of wealth.

For Marx however, unequal exchange is a secondary phenomenon that affects the fluctuation of prices of commodities around their value. It cheapens the costs of production of value because it is essentially theft. Capitalism got its start by theft (primitive accumulation), and grew by sucking slave and unpaid labour into its system. But it developed as a highly productive system only when it could pay a living wage to sustain life and began applying new machinery to increase labour productivity. This reduced necessary labour time and brought down the value of commodities.

Nevertheless capitalism still resorts to unequal exchange (theft) at the margins in the neo-colonies and semi-colonies (like NZ) to boost profits especially when defence of labour’s historic gains prevent devaluation of living standards.

But the basic point is that the system does not function by buying cheap and selling dear except at the margins. At the centre of all the big capitalist powers is highly developed monopoly industry that sets the value of commodities by the value of the labour power expended in production at a level set by a historic compromise between labour and capital.

Capitalist Crisis means socialism or death!

The inherent crisis of capitalism is that it cannot exploit workers enough to extract sufficient value in the process of production to maintain an adequate return of profits over all the capital in existence. So as the rate of profit falls capital is not re-invested in production and overproduction of capital is the result.

This is where Keynesian state intervention comes in, substituting for capitalists who want to hoard their excess capital (or these days engage in casino capitalism betting on future prices of existing commodities or buying future prices of commodities that do not yet exist) to stimulate demand and therefore productive investment. But the fact is that the capitalists control the state and make sure that they receive the bailouts to cover their debts and finance a return to hoarding and speculation rather than invest productively.

It follows that both the banks and corporates have to be socialised, not by a state that consists of corrupt capitalist cronies, but a state that represents the interests of the working class that produces the wealth. Only such a workers state can make sure that capital is socialised and invested in production to meet needs rather than profits. The market is a total handicap to this so no mixed system is feasible.

The crisis of capitalism is now a crisis of human survival so the stakes are high – for workers to survive, capitalism must die. Capitalism depends on drawing down nature’s bounty which includes the labour power of its workers. It destroys nature. We have little time to smash capitalism and rescue humanity and the rest of nature. We can only do that by uniting workers all around the world. This means that Marxists must take the lead in the socialist revolution drawing on the lessons of ‘Why Marxism is Right’.

Capitalism as a system is in a terminal crisis unable to develop human society but rather is destroying it. The crisis can only be resolved either by capitalist barbarism or proletarian socialism. Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto of 1848 “Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win”. They were right. They are still right. It is up to us to make it come true.

Occupy MayDay! Occupy Lenin!

Over 1000 tire workers locked out in Findlay, Ohio, supported by Occupy Detroit
First, let’s get this idea that Occupy is finished out of the way. It hasn’t finished and this is why. You can’t evict an idea when that idea is to make the Bankers pay for their crisis. They won’t and they can’t without renouncing the whole basis of capitalism - making profits. Therefore Occupy is forced to confront the system in all of its dirt and blood. Physically Occupy lives on in the many actions and meetings that are taking place globally. Occupy is outreaching to working class struggles in workplaces, education, housing, unions, media etc and much of this activity is live-streamed, twitted or blogged continuously. 

The #OccupyMaydayGeneralStrike call is an attempt at a global general strike. There is intense political and theoretical discussion among liberals, radicals and Marxists about what Occupy is, its class composition, its demands, its prospects, and so on. This is not new as liberals, radicals and Marxists have had to debate Occupy’s progenitors - the Arab Revolution and the European revolt of the Indignados and the British youth riots. So what do revolutionary communists make of Occupy as a social movement and the ideological struggle between reformists, radicals and revolutionaries?

The reformists want to suck occupy back into legislative politics on the instalment plan. Bad! The radicals want a movement of the streets and workplaces that occupies everything. Good! But can the mass radical movement resist the reformists without an organised, disciplined leadership? As Bolshevik/Leninists we say that Marxism does not spontaneously grow on the streets under attacks from the cops. You can be academically anti-capitalist like Chomsky or violently anti-capitalist like black bloc without understanding what capitalism is.

Those who want to challenge capitalism have to take power and that means the class conscious, organised armed insurrection to take power. So how is the revolutionary left working towards this? Let’s look at a discussion kicked off by Pham Binh that is directed at the failure of the organised ‘Leninist’ left to relate to Occupy fruitfully. Binh argues that is because today’s Leninists are a caricature of Lenin. He remonstrates that Lenin would have done a much better job. So the question is what would Lenin have done? At its heart this is the question posed by many revolutionaries today. Let’s look at the three positions in turn.

Reformists co-opting occupy?

The reformists in Occupy are trying to turn Occupy into a support base for the re-election of Obama. Leading this co-option is the 99Spring which is a “campaign” fronted by organizations like MoveOn, Jobs with Justice, Greenpeace and others who have signed the 99% Spring pledge? It claims to be a broad base movement based on the grass roots. The 99% Spring label attempts to trade off both the Arab Spring and the 99% concept of Occupy. Yet it’s objective is to coopt Occupy behind Obama. That is why it has not endorsed the MayDay General Strike. That is the test. Since the call for the reclaiming of MayDay is a radical initiative to put International Workers Day on the agenda of Occupy and making clear that Occupy and the base of the labor movement must join forces, this will embarrass the machine politics of the Democrats. So 99Spring is using its training schools for "nonviolent direct action" as a way to divert Occupy from MayDay. There is also the Occupy NATO in Chicago, but that would be too close to the bone for the party of Bomber Obama!

At the same time we don’t want to write off Occupy just because it has a large number of reformists. This is a factor of the backwardness of US political culture where no workers party exists and the weak unions act as conveyor belts into the Democrat Party. But Occupy signals a huge upwelling of anger at the effects of the capitalist crisis especially as it effects middle class youth. The whole point is that Occupy has the capacity to develop into a revolutionary movement. 
But first it has to outgrow its reformist limits, and this is made more difficult when some radicals inside Occupy do not present a clear alternative to the Democrats. This is the result of adopting key electoral slogans like Tax Capital or Tax the Rich that are directed at the political parties. On top of that there are prominent supposed radicals like Chomsky, who when it comes to the election will give critical support to the Democrats.

Chomsky is a classic case of the celebrity anarchist who is trapped in the petty bourgeois politics of individualism that offers no way out of the existing state apparatus other than to adapt to it. Much pseudo radicalism is based on the notion of ‘horizontalism’ ostensibly directed at the ‘hierarchy’ of political parties. It implies Occupy can operate without a leadership and function on the basis of direct democracy. It can build a ‘counter-power’ that does not need to challenge the bosses’ state power. But inevitably if you don’t contest the power of the state uncompromisingly then you end up joining that state. Chomsky and Co are the reverse side of the anarchist coin to the Black Block. Both offer no alternative to capitalism because they have no program to replace it.

Radicals: Occupy Mayday!

Occupy proved in a few short weeks that the reformist platform is bankrupt. This is why reformists like Hedges attacked the Black Bloc. But the Black Bloc is an easy target and does not represent more than a tiny minority of Occupy. The reformists have more difficulty in neutralising the real breakthrough which is the radical unity of Occupy with union rank and file. This proved to be the ‘circuit breaker’ that built mass support for port closures and forced the ILWU union bosses to expose themselves as in the bosses’ pocket at Longview. That is to say, as soon as Occupy, rebounding from the vicious attacks of the state forces, joined up with the militant union rank and file, the reformist’s strategy to recruit Occupy to Obama was blown out.

What was blown out was the pacifist politics of electoralism where ‘Violence’ is reserved for Obama’s bombs and drones. In its place Occupy found that the mass picket justifies violence in defence of the 99%, and in the process confronting state violence put them in solidarity with the ‘wildcat’ strike at Longview! The linking of Occupy and the ILWU rank and file at Longview also exposed the union officials who panicked by the fear of losing control of the dispute signed a sell-out deal with the EGT bosses. To its credit Portland Occupy who were not shown the rotten terms of this deal, saw it as a small victory as part of the ongoing war against the 1%. There is a long way to go to build solidarity to the point where the unions take strike action against Taft-Hartley and return to the militancy of the early days of the US labour movement.

The Occupy decision to reclaim MayDay as a general strike follows directly from the experience of solidarity with workers in struggle. It's a first attempt at a national strike which falls far short of a general strike. But it is a political strike that prepares the ground for a political general strike at the power of the 1%. But the labour solidarity at Longview and other struggles may not lead directly to militant class conscious struggle in the ranks of the unions or Occupy unless revolutionaries intervene directly. This is because neither the unions or Occupy as yet has a Marxist analysis which explains that the labour bureaucracy act as the labour lieutenants of capital that keep the unions confined to the labour law. The labour bureaucracy is no friend of the workers!

As Earl Gilman says, “Yes, labor unions of course are prohibited from striking for political demands....they are prohibited from striking to support other unions, etc. The list of legal prohibitions on unions goes on and on...The reason the unions in the U.S. are gradually dying is because they obey the law. The law was made by the rich to protect themselves from the poor. The auto workers who occupied the Detroit auto plants were defying the law. John L. Lewis, when he was head of the miners during the Second World War, called strikes in defiance of the law. I don't think we on the Left should let the labor bureaucracy off the the courts throw them in jail for a few what? But we have to educate/prepare/organize workers that defying the bosses’ laws are the only way to save their jobs. Thanking the union bureaucracy for "supporting" the movement with resolutions is political bootlicking!”

Fortunately Occupy has labour solidarity groups like #OOlaborsolidarity where revolutionaries can put forward analyses of what must be done. It requires the revolutionary Marxists to speak plainly and tell the truth. So this means Marxists advocating labour solidarity actions that unite workers' strikes against the employers with Occupy's commitment to 'breaking the law' to advance the 99%. In essence it means making Occupy MayDay General Strike the launching pad for an unlimited political general strike for an insurrection to bring down the ruling class and put a Workers' and Oppressed peoples' Government in power!

The radical reclaiming of MayDay by Occupy is an attempt to generalise this revolutionary thrust. But it’s not enough. Lenin and Trotsky recognised the limits of Trade Union Consciousness as falling short of revolutionary consciousness. Trade unions operate as economist institutions that negotiate wages but do not fight to end the wage system! Without a revolutionary Marxist party neither the unions or Occupy cannot develop beyond an economist consciousness of capitalism into a class conscious revolutionary movement. Let’s examine this point because it is central to the debate on what kind of revolutionary party is needed to lead workers to revolution.

What would Lenin have done?

The need for a revolutionary Marxist party is the need for a revolutionary Marxist program. Capitalism throws up a smoke screen that hides the class basis of exploitation. A Marxist program proves that capitalism cannot be reformed and that to survive the working class must become class conscious and overthrow it. The program also spells out how to go about making a revolution. Such a program needs to be kept alive and kicking by a revolutionary party. Whether a program works or not is decided by testing it in practice. So a revolutionary party must be organised to put the program into practice, and to change it if it doesn't work. The Marxist left sees the need for leadership and a revolutionary party, but what does this party look like.There are two basic models of a Marxist party. The first is a 'class party' (or "multi-tendency" party) including reformists, radicals and Marxists. The second is the so-called 'vanguard' party of class conscious Marxists. The question of how Marxists should intervene in Occupy has raised this question again. And the advocates of both types of party both claim to be Leninists.

For the class party side is Pham Binh who argues against le Blanc and others that the idea that Lenin built a new type of vanguard party is a myth. He claims Lenin didn't form a party of Bolsheviks separate from the broad party of the class in 1905 or 1912. The Bolsheviks in 1905 were a small minority inside the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party (RSDWP) which was a mass party including a number of currents which shifted course so that both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks (minority) where never actually distinct or separate parties.

What Binh is arguing here is that today left parties are tiny sects modelling themselves on the mythical Leninist 'vanguard' and competing in a sectarian way to win support in Occupy and meeting resistance. He looks back to Leninism as he understands it for the model of a broad class party, that contains workers at different levels of political consciousness, where the different factions compete to demonstrate how a Marxist program can be applied to solve the problems of the 99%.

There is some truth in this as the Bolsheviks did function as a faction in the old RSDWP until 1917. Yet that faction acted more as a vanguard party within a much broader party from 1905 when it declared itself to be a separate party, and after 1912 when it actually became a separate party. The Bolsheviks growing split from the Mensheviks was necessary to defend the Marxist program. The basis on which the Bolsheviks formed a faction/party distinct from the rest in the RSDWP was a programmatic principle: the refusal to 'liquidate' the proletarian class into subordination and even political alliances with the exploiting classes. In other words the Bolshevik faction stood for the independence of the workers as the revolutionary class against those who 'liquidated' this class independence into cross-class or popular fronts with the bourgeoisie. Allied to the 'liquidators' were the 'conciliators' who while formally opposed to liquidation, in practice vacillated towards the 'liquidators'. The liquidators in various degrees all took the Menshevik position that 'backward' Russia would have to go through a prolonged bourgeois revolution before it was ready for a socialist revolution.

The long battle against 'liquidationism' faced the critical test over the question of whether the RSDWP would give 'conditional support' to the bourgeois Provisional Government in Russia after the February 1917 Revolution. Up to that point the Bolsheviks had won support for a Bourgeois revolution led by the workers and peasants (the 'Revolutionary Democratic Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Peasants') since the bourgeoisie was too weak and dependent on Tsarism. The Bolsheviks would give 'conditional support; to a bourgeois government 'insofar as it acts in the interests of the revolution'. That is, mobilise workers and peasants to control it and push it left (for peace, land, and bread) to complete the tasks of the Bourgeois revolution and so prepare for the socialist revolution. 
Yet when the workers rose up in February and a Bourgeois provisional government was formed Lenin rejected 'conditional support' for this government as 'liquidation' into the class enemy. He argued that the working class was capable of completing the bourgeois revolution ‘uninterrupted’, or in Trotsky’s terms, in a 'permanent revolution' for socialism. Subordinating the workers and peasants to the Provisional Government would leave workers defenceless against a Bourgeois/Tsarist counter-revolution. There would be no peace, land or bread. No road forward to socialism, only back to barbarism.

The lesson for Leninism in Occupy today is that after 1903 the Bolsheviks formed a faction in which the principle of revolutionary independence of the working class against any political alliances that subordinated it to the bourgeoisie was the test of membership. When revolution broke out in Russia the Bolsheviks had the history of building an organisation with a long experience of both democracy and discipline to act to defend this principle and change its program from one which involved a 'popular front' with the bourgeoisie, to that of socialist revolution. The change in program defeated the counter-revolution and made the revolution. So if this is the Leninist party we need today how do we go about building it?

Lenin in Occupy

The global capitalist system is facing a terminal crisis. The world economy must go through a deep depression to restore the rate of profit. No bourgeois or capitalist party can stop this, only a working class revolution. We face socialism or barbarism. The bourgeoisie cannot rule without invoking extreme repression, first smashing of democracy and then unless workers stop it, fascism. The workers cannot live with capitalism. For workers to live, capitalism must die. Lenin would call it a revolutionary situation where the extreme rottenness of global capitalism threatens destruction of humanity and where the working class is ready and willing to fight to the death but has yet to overcome a huge lack of class consciousness and organisation.

So Lenin would recognise Occupy as a spontaneous mobilisation of objectively anti-capitalist youth and other workers but with its majority trapped into an economist ideology and still misled about the possibility of reforms. However the severity of the crisis means that the capitalist attacks and resistance of Occupy to them will quickly prove that the capitalists must destroy rather than grant reforms. One term of Obama has gone a long way to destroy economist illusions. Several social democratic government in Europe have been voted out after imposing drastic austerity programs. Even so the reformists are fighting like hell to hijack Occupy and stop its revolutionary development. So Leninists must join in this fight against all attempts to subordinate the working class to the bourgeoisie via the Democrats, Social Democracy and the labour bureaucracy, and raise instead the need to build an independent mass workers party with a revolutionary program.

Leninism is about how Marxists lead in the wider working class struggles. This means a program for socialist revolution. It means to fight against today's liquidators and conciliators who want to bury the Marxist program into the popular front of the workers, petty bourgeois and bourgeois elements who make up the 99%. Leninists intervene to oppose the politics of all those who claim to be anti-capitalist yet act as the agents of the popular front with the bourgeoisie.

Lenin's tactic of a Bolshevik faction engaging in patient explanation combined with contesting the leadership of the class struggle would weed out those among the 99% who are agents of the bourgeoisie. Cops, Ron Paulites, libertarians, etc. yes. But more dangerous are those that pose as workers. We oppose pacifist and reformist appeals to the 1%, the cops, the middle class, the Democrats, Social Democracy and the labour bureaucrats of the trade union federations. 

We do this by calling on Occupy to follow Occupy Oakland's lead and unite with the union rank and file members to Occupy all the strategic sites of production of profits - the workplaces, the banks, transport and communications, schools, hospitals etc - to demand workers administration and control. Reformists will oppose such direct action, and radicals will join with Leninists to build workers councils and workers militias capable of smashing the capitalist state and installing the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

We advocate reading Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and  Luxemburg but not the petty bourgeois radicals Zizek or Chomsky, Bourdieu or Badiou. The latter offer no revolutionary answers as in their various ways they oppose the Leninist-type party and the practice of democratic-centralism. For us the only way that the Marxist program can be tested is if a majority agrees to unite in action to test it, and then to debate the results democratically to see if it works or not. That is the basis of democratic centralism, or, dialectics - which in its highest form is the class conscious intervention of the vanguard of the working class to resolve the contradiction between socialised production and private profit by means of a socialist revolution.

That is the method of Leninists in Occupy. The crisis of capitalism is destroying the working class and driving it to resist it's destruction. Leninists are Marxists; we do not separate ourselves from the masses, but champion their class interests locally and globally. We intervene only to help workers become class conscious fighters, organised in strike committees, democratic councils of action, defence militias, and as militants of an international party of socialist revolution, able to unite internationally as a force to smash the capitalist system and its military machine and replace it with a socialist society producing for need and not profit!

Turn Occupy into revolutionary workers councils!
For a new World Party of Socialist Revolution!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fight Chinese Imperialism not Red Scare or Yellow Peril!

The controversy over the sale of the Crafar farms to a Chinese based consortium has raised both the issue of New Zealand's semi-colonial status and the dangers of semi-colonial nationalism degenerating into racism. NZ is an Anglo/US semi-colony but is now increasingly a semi-colony of China, now New Zealand's main trading partner. The Crafar controversy drags NZ into the worsening imperialist rivalry between the still hegemonic US imperialism and its newly emerging rival, Chinese imperialism. While the NACT Government is trying to keep both rivals onside, NZ workers must refuse to side with both, and join forces with the Chinese and US working classes to overthrow their own imperialist masters.

 Historic anti-Chinese racism

Typical of the chauvinist anti-China response is that of Tumeke  blogger Tim Selwyn. He is a national chauvinist more typical of the social democratic rather than revolutionary left. He seems to have a thing about Chinese in NZ. That may reflect historic attitudes, his strong support for Mana and the tension that exists between Maori Treaty claims and selling off of land to foreigners all of which needs to be unpacked. 

In NZ historically, the white-settler labour movement was anti-Chinese which goes back to the time when British workers were infused with British social imperialism. Social imperialism is that Eurocentric view that non-European peoples need to follow the path to civilisation of the European powers which may take an invasion or a war or two to instil. In China in the 1840s shelling the imperial palace was necessary to open up China to the opium of Western civilisation. At the same time In NZ where Maori were numerically and militarily stronger than the settlers the Church and the Treaty kept the peace until more troops arrived. 

It took the militancy of Maori, Irish, Scots, Australian and US workers, whose ‘civilisation’ owed something to fighting the British, and the socialist and anarchist ideology of the late 19th century, to challenge this British chauvinism in the labour movement early in the 20th century. Militancy had to overcome national chauvinism and racism in order to create international solidarity against the bosses.
In NZ the militant internationalists were defeated by 1913 and swamped in the wartime jingoism. The moderates who formed a labour aristocracy better paid (skilled workers these days often mislabelled the ‘middle class’) founded the Labour Party, and retained a pakeha privileged anti-Asian and anti-Maori prejudice. Margaret Mutu recently highlighted the fact that NZ’s skilled immigration policy still favours the ‘attitude of white supremacy'. She implies that this reproduces the white settler racism and chauvinism of old for the same reason – protection of better jobs. 

Aotearoa is already sold out

This accounts for the acceptance of favoured historic British, US and Australian foreign investment and control, and the alarm when China enters the field to buy NZ assets. Now that China is becoming an economic power, and obviously seen by the US as a challenger to its Pacific hegemony, there are those in NZ who conflate the historic anti-China racism, with anti-foreign investment. 

That is a conflation of a reactionary with a progressive cause. It is reactionary when it blames foreigners for loss of control over the economy, land, jobs, incomes etc and looks to ‘national’ ownership as salvation. It is progressive when it blames foreign imperialism of all nations, and its agents in NZ, the NACTs, the banksters and the vulture capitalists, who as an international ruling CLASS, conspire to increase their control over the economy, land, jobs, incomes etc. at the expense of workers everywhere. 

One argument used to rationalise anti-China racism is the supposed advantage of China's cheap labour and cheap state bank loans over its rivals. This is typical of US imperialist anti-China rhetoric which is glaringly hypocritical as the US takes advantage of Chinese cheap labour and state concessions when it invests in China, and at home prints money to rescue its failing banks! The ‘human rights’ argument that China uses cheap or slave labour is equally hypocritical as the NACT regime sells NZ’s comparative advantage as ‘cheap labour’ and compliant unions. 

What China gets from its foreign investments

This is a subject hotly debated in Africa where China has moved in a big way in recent years and is now threatening to displace US and EU powers. The West has responded with charges of Chinese colonialism propping up dictatorships with and exploiting land, minerals and labour. Of course African regard this a a huge joke given a history of Western enslavement and colonial occupation over several centuries.  

Deborah Brautigam has written extensively on this, in particular on concessional loans and eximbank subsidies. Her main findings are that despite appearances (and being late on the scene) China is doing pretty much what Western powers have done for years - exploiting raw materials (but less labour) at a price roughly comparable with the West. That means investing at a similar rate of return as others and being no more or less 'imperialistic' than its Western rivals. In other words China could not expand at the rate it’s doing overtaking the Western powers unless it is getting 'value for money'. 

That would figure since they are all capitalist countries and you cannot grow by printing money without causing inflation. So what we have is China emerging as an imperialist power having accumulated surplus capital from the extreme exploitation of labour (alongside the duty free plants of Japan, Taiwan, US etc in the Special Economic Zones) and clever adoption of new technology, which is now being invested in the classic manner of the European and American imperialists before it in Asia, Africa and Latin America, to plunder the resources of the colonial and semi-colonial (and of course rival EU, Australian and US imperialist) economies to extract super-profits. 

So what is new?

The Crafar Farms issue shows that those in the working class most influenced by anti-China chauvinism and racism are those sectors that historically defend their higher paid jobs from the non-European peoples. Those in the working class that oppose China buying the farms in favour of NZ ownership (and Maori ownership) are in danger of getting sucked into this anti-China racism. 

When Michael Fay, notorious for making millions from selling off state assets in the 1980s, and running off to live in Switzerland, forms a bloc with Maori iwi leaders this is a fraction of the national capitalists class aligned with imperialism. Fay sold BNZ and Tranz Rail to major foreign corporates. He is part of the vulture capitalists who stripped NZ assets for foreign ownership. The vulture capitalists can’t exist without partnerships with foreign ownership. Why? To survive, national capitalists must become agents of imperialism on its terms and get a small share of the plunder of NZ assets and labour for their efforts. Partnering iwi corporates is merely lining up new players to suck them into the vulture compradors. Think Maori joint ventures in fishing. 

The fact is that international finance capital is contemptuous of national borders. It only preaches nationalism and racism to keep the workers lined up behind national borders and ready to go to war to defend this or that imperialist power. That’s why workers as a class have to be even more internationalist than their bosses and not fall for the racist nationalism that divides them and sets brother and sister at each other's throat. The political allies of NZ workers are not their own bosses, but all ‘foreign’ workers. The best ally against Chinese imperialism is not Sir Michael Fay or his token iwi corporate partners but the Chinese working class that fights for workers control of the Chinese economy. 

Pacific Workers Unite against imperialism

NZ workers should do the same. It’s not enough to demand ‘nationalisation’ since that means the property is controlled by the state which is the state of the ruling class. The fact that China still has land that was nationalised by the 1949 Revolution, but can restore capitalism and emerge as the most dynamic imperialist power proves this. Workers are internationalists; we have no nation as that means merging with the class enemy. The ‘nation’ we defend is that which belongs to the working class and our demands are to expropriate and ‘socialise’ the land, all state assets so they cannot be sold, all major corporate and banks, and put them under workers management and control. 

Aotearoa/NZ is a tiny pawn in this Pacific rivalry between the US and China so the only question that should be posed by what passes for the 'left' here is how does the Aotearoa/NZ working class avoid being dragged by national capitalist chauvinists to fight for one or other imperialist power in the new wars that are looming everywhere? 

The answer to that is not too difficult - expropriate!

  • Oppose ALL privatisation into the hands of all large capitalist enterprises and demand socialisation under workers control. 
  • Where private firms go bankrupt, do not bail them out, do not subsidise their sale to vulture capitalists of any nationality, but socialise without compensation all their assets. That way the working class owns and controls the base of the economy and can plan production for need and not greed.
  • All land should be socialised and land users licensed via leases to produce meeting strict social criteria.  At the same time the historic question of the theft of Maori land can be settled as Maori have first claim to perpetual leasehold of their historic lands. 
  • Workers of Aotearoa and China unite! You have nothing to lose but your oppressors!
  • For a Pan Pacific Union of Socialist Republics!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Smash NACT Union busters

5000 march in solidarity with locked out dockers. Auckland March 10 2012
 The ongoing on/off strike/lockout of MUNZ local 13, AFFCO lockout and strike by meat workers; strikes by Oceania Aged Care workers; sacking of 100s of Air NZ workers, and the impending attack on teachers, are all part of NACTs plan in its second term to return to the union-busting ECA of 1991. The objective is to remove unions and allow bosses to dictate individual contracts to isolated workers who are forced to compete with one another without union protection. The strategy for the fightback must be to unite workers in unions with those not in unions into mass pickets to shutdown those workplaces that lockout and sack workers. We are for occupations of workplaces and the formation of workers councils to build for a national strike to bring down the NACT government and fight for a Workers Government.

History of attacks on unions

We have seen the affects of this destruction since 1984 when the Fourth Labour Government deregulated the economy and began to deregulate the labour market. The union bureaucracy was directly implicated in this by refusing to fight for fear that Labour would not get elected in 1984. The massive restructuring of the economy meant that the membership of the unions paid the price in lost jobs, pay and conditions. The unions slumped from around 50% of the workforce to less than 20% today. That means that 20% organised labour are trying to fight not only for their own rights and living conditions, but for the rights of the other 80%.

The major attack came in 1991 with the Employment Contracts Act (ECA) that introduced individual contracts but also empowered the bosses to take on and split up and defeat the most militant sections of the labour movement.

The labour bureaucracy reveals it’s rottenness along with the Labour Party when they are in power. The labour bureaucracy acts like a branch of management, for the bosses, and holds down workers who have fighting demands. This was the role of the CTU leadership again in 1991. When they acted in the interests of the bosses, they averted a general strike against the ECA, and acted in their own self interest; they convinced parliament to let them continue as ‘workers representatives’. The labour bureaucracy is the layer which put on the leg-iron on workers and keeps it oiled up.

The ECA was the result of the world economic crisis of falling profits for capitalism. It was the weapon by which the bosses in NZ were given legal rights to attack workers directly; on the job, through wages, conditions, etc. The ECA stripped workers of the ‘right’ and the ability to have a united workforce; a closed shop. It legalised the use of scab labour. A series of big disputes (Carter Holt, Air NZ etc) ended in defeats for the more militant unions laying the basis for a general decline in the labour movement.

The Labour Government in 2000 replaced the ECA with the Employment Relations Act (ERA) but left intact some of the worst aspects of that law. Very few unions were able over this period to resist the long slide towards poverty wages and casualised conditions. Very often plant closures (car, meat, carpet, clothing etc) led to large-scale unemployment. Some of the traditionally strong unions (most of them dating from the days of the Red Fed and who formed TUF when the CTU was formed) such as the Waterfront Workers Union and Seafarers were able to partially resist the worst attacks but even they had to make major concessions over the past twenty because the leaderships used their numerical weakness to oppose breaking the law. As with all other worksites, there has been a push towards de-unionisation and subcontracting of labour to eliminate the gains won in the past and open up labour to complete control by the bosses.

Mass Picket! Make or Break!

The current round of disputes is a make or break class war that only one side is fighting on the basis of its class strength. The NACTs are using their political power in government and their economic power as representing the capitalist owners of industry and the media to force a showdown with unions to concede their last few remaining rights and conditions. They have the law on their side and the big divisions they have made in the working class since the 1990s.

Legally, the ERA is a bosses’ leg iron that means that workers have to obey it or risk being jailed. When workers are locked out or on strike legally the employers are prevented from hiring scabs to take their jobs. The Employment Court may fine them for breaches of section 97 of the ERA (see judgement on POAL) but in the end the law is designed to favour capital and unless workers take direct mass strike action, the employers will win. They have the funds to keep going back to court and to pay fines, which will sooner or later starve out the unions or demoralise the workers into looking for other work or going to Australia.

POAL ignored the law and was only pulled up by the Court when growing organised union opposition locally and internationally to contracting out forced the Port management to back down. But the return to negotiations leaves the workers back at square one. Talley’s the AFFCO owners have been called ‘corporate scum’ because they are anti-union and hostile to basic workers rights such as gender equality. They have locked out 1500 workers to bust the Meatworkers Union. Oceania are refusing to pay their minimum waged Aged Care workers a cost of living increase. The workers strikes so far have failed to budge the employer. In all these cases the bosses are using scabs to do the work of striking and locked out workers!

The only way to stop the bosses drive to bust the unions and casualise workers as slave labour is to build mass pickets to shut down the workplace. Even the threat of this can force the the boss to retreat. The bosses know that once the workers break the labour law they have the power to win. It will force the bosses state to roll out the police and the troops and blow the fiction that the state is neutral and that there is no class war. The recent example of the ILWU struggle at Longview in the US is a good example. But that is only a start, as the only way to defeat capital in the workplace is through workers occupations, ownership and control.

Occupy and the Unions

In the last issue of Class Struggle we wrote about the emergence of Occupy linked to the unions as a new development has opened up for organising the wider working class. We can see this in action in California. The threat of a mass picket at Longview in Oregon forced the EGT bosses mid February to retreat and write a new contract with the locked out ILWU dockers. Occupy Portland wrote that this was a victory for the combined forces of the union and Occupy, but only one battle in the ongoing war against the big corporate.

However there was no agreement to view. Howard Keylor reported in mid March that “this is the worst contract imposed on a longshore local that I have ever seen.” It makes major hire and fire concessions to the bosses granted by the union officials scared that a mass picket that mobilised the unorganised working class would expose their unwillingness to break out of the legal straightjacket of the Taft-Hartley Act that makes penalises unions for ‘wildcat’ strikes.

This proves that it is the union bureaucracy in cahoots with the corporations that is the only barrier to rank and file power united with mass working class support revolutionising labour relations. (see article in this issue on OCCUPY MAYDAY).

The same applies in Aotearoa/NZ. To break out of the legal leg iron of the ERA workers have to resort to the only power they have to fight the bosses, that is their class power to close down production by using mass pickets. Where this has been attempted in the last 20 years the police have been used to break the picket lines and allow the scabs into the worksite. Therefore the only way to prevent this is to have thousands on the picket line to make a police action difficult and at the same time demonstrate to the wider 80% of non-unionised members of the working class what is at stake for them too. And when employers close down worksites in order to make workers redundant, the workers must be organised and ready to occupy and put the sites under workers management and control.

Workers & bosses have nothing in common

Instead of recognising this logic however, the union bureaucracy in the CTU has controlled the tactics of industrial disputes within leg iron of the labour law and persuaded the rank and file that there is no other way. Thus the CTU campaigns to support the striking and locked out POA wharfies and AFFCO meat workers is to play down the class war that is going on and appeal to conservative bourgeois family values of the ‘community’ in general in defence of workers jobs. This is a tactic to pretend that there is no class war, only greedy or stupid bosses.

The problem with this approach is that it is designed to sway public opinion and pressure parliament in defence of a mythical classless family, rather than build working class consciousness and solidarity directly to defend jobs against the NACTs and the tiny ruling class. The union bureaucracy, like the Labour Party which has attempted to distance itself from militant industrial action to appeal to the middle class, thinks that by winning public opinion it can counter the class interests of the boss class that controls parliament and the state forces as well as the media and arrive at a ‘fair’ outcome. This is to put car before the horse. There can be no ‘fairness’ while the capitalist class system remains.

Public opinion right now is confused and mainly dominated by new right propaganda about individual rights especially among the 80% workers who are non-unionised many of whom ‘aspire’ to escape the working class into the ‘middle class’. But there is no escape for most. As we look around the world in crisis today the ‘middle class’ is rapidly sinking back into the low paid or unemployed working class. The unions can only succeed in winning this do or die struggle against the capitalist class fighting for its own survival by standing at the head of the working class in the class war instead of the mythical ‘community’.

The bosses are organised as a class with its control of the corporates, the media and the electoral process. The working class can only win if it too organises as one united class on the basis of its independence of the state and the labour law. This means breaking with the Labour Party and the social democratic ideology of classlessness. The unions will only become a force in the class struggle when they are prepared to break the law and assert the higher law of the rights of labour to claim the full value of what they produce. This means the unions have to be transformed into fighting, democratic unions in the tradition of the famous Red Federation of the early 1900s. The emergence of Occupy as a force among young workers can help in this process of reviving the unions as ‘schools for revolution’. (see OCCUPY MAYDAY in this issue)

Red Fed or Dead Fed

As we wrote back in 2010 in our article ‘Red Fed or Dead Fed’:

“The Maritime Union NZ is back in the parliamentary paddock/ sheep pen. They have renewed their affiliation to the Labour Party, with a conference remit extending MUNZ parliamentary blinkers to any other 'left' ally for Labour. MUNZ members should know well enough that pickets and direct action win fights to protect workers – not courts or circus acts at the beehive. It is the lack of leadership from union officials to take direct action in solidarity of workers in struggle, which leaves parliament looking like the only option.

The union movement might have re-united in the CTU, but only to be the union rump of the Labour Party and to continue to mislead workers into the parliament. That is, voting fodder for the Labour Party and its parliamentary illusion of reforming capitalism. The false hope that it is possible to reform capitalism; to put some 'better' rules on capitalism, to stop those naughty finance capitalists. The leadership of the working class as represented by the union leadership has shown that once again it only works to reform capitalism when capitalism cannot be reformed accept as a result of militant struggle when bosses are forced to make concessions to stay in power.

Mass Pickets and National Strike!

A revived Red Fed would create the working class base for the formation of a new workers party based on Trade Union militants and workers councils that would contest the Labour Party in as many seats as possible and under MMP challenge Labour from inside parliament as well as outside. As the NZ economy reverts back towards a giant farm and mine the only unions that will have any real power are those that run transport and communications. They rather than service workers can bring the country to a halt. But much work needs to be done to unionise this workforce as it has been turned into a subcontracted workforce where workers are forced to compete with one another. MUNZ members have gone along with this subcontracting as much as any union. The rot has to be reversed starting with rank and file democracy!

Marx pulled apart the workings of capitalism and described the economic forces within capitalism that drive it into crises, wars and attacks on the working class. We cannot reform this capitalist beast: we need to overthrow it by taking control – for workers control of all production including the financial system (we might still need some way of accounting).

Revolutionaries fight for such as program inside the unions and any working class party that emerges from the struggles ahead. We call this a Transitional Program of immediate demands such as freedom of expression and assembly (against Search and Surveillance etc) through demands such as jobs for all on a living wage with a sliding scale so that hours are reduced without loss of pay until all those who want to work, can work (30 hour week to start). But capitalism cannot do this, so the fight for such basic needs to survive brings workers up against the need to take power and form a workers government to plan production for human need and not profit.

· Form worker activist networks as a left wing within the unions.

· For a Red Federation of Labour.

· Turn lockouts into strikes, and strikes into occupations of worksites, and set up workers control of each worksite, through elected (and recallable) worksite leaders.

· For Workers Councils: local councils of workers to run the towns and cities. Made up of representatives elected (and recallable) by the local worksites.

· For a Workers Government to plan a socialist economy. (Only by the above demands being met can a real workers government be formed – ie. not through a vote every 3 yrs).

· For a Socialist Federation of the Pacific.”

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Aotearoa: Fight the NACT Workfare Attack

The NACTs attacks on beneficiaries should not surprise us. Since the onset of the structural crisis of capitalism in the 1970s the bosses have tried to cut back social spending on the social wage but cutting their taxes as a drain on their profits. In the 1980s Labour undermined the welfare system by restructuring the economy and ending compulsory unionism. In the 1990s we had Ruth Richardson's benefit cuts of 1991, Jenny Shipley's workfare attack of 1997/98, which also targeted solo mothers but was driven back by mass outrage. The whole point was to cut taxes on profits behind a smoke screen of blaming beneficiaries for 'bludging' on the state and causing profits to fall.

Then after its 2008 re-election the National led government in its first-term implemented reforms that made life for beneficiaries worse (for example ACC forcing sex abuse victims to forgo paid counselling). 

"As the recession deepens laid-off workers by the thousand are lining up to claim a right won through bitter struggle in earlier depressions- namely the right to an unemployment benefit. The capitalist overclass and their parliamentary representatives have anticipated this and are desperately seeking ways to divert the rising tide of working class outrage at the ways they are immensely profiting from a crisis of their own creation. Having in opposition wept crocodile tears about the emergence in NZ of an ‘underclass’ they are now in government reverting to their time honoured posture of blaming that ‘underclass’ of beneficiaries for all the social social evils spawned by decadent capitalism as a prelude to attacks on working class entitlements, including citizenship rights such as the client confidentiality of beneficiaries and the democratic right to criticize the government without having one’s privacy violated. In doing so they fully intent on creating an underclass in the sense of a stratum of society denied full citizenship status. The corporate media are complicit in this attack on society’s most vulnerable, and have abetted welfare minister Paula Bennett’s crime by publishing the names of those whose income’s she revealed and enthusiastically participated in the redneck abuse to which this has exposed them.
The strategy of picking on beneficiaries conveniently diverts media attention from parliamentarian’s perks such as travel allowances and subsidised housing. (While speaking of subsidised housing, let’s remember that amongst the supplementary benefits that can swell a beneficiary’s apparent income is the Accommodation Supplement, which is available to employed workers but is nothing but a state subsidy to capitalist landlords.)  However its main thrust is to create division in the working class and cultivate the fascist mentality which they will find so useful to smashing worker’s organisations. Workers, whether still employed or laid-off must not allow their solidarity to be so easily undermined.
The beneficiaries under attack had dared criticise Bennett for scrapping the Training Incentive Allowances which presumably had helped Bennett herself escape from the despised underclass. Other measures the Key government is currently undertaking to make the victims of their crisis pay for it are the cutting of funding for community education and the restriction of access to certain special benefits such as the Independent Youth Benefit. In the latter case young workers are being offered places in the Army’s Limited Service Volunteer Scheme and told that declining could mean the loss of IYB. As Key and Co deepen NZ’s involvement in imperialist war they are capitalising on the propaganda value of Corporal Apiata’s VC and following in Mussolini’s footsteps by ‘firing unemployment out of the barrel of a gun.’ The working class has seen it all before and the world has seen it once too often."

Now Paula Rebstock's razor gang draws on earlier these earlier attempts by Labour and National to attack beneficiaries and demolish the welfare state. The severity of the Rebstock ‘reforms’ testifies to the severity of the global crisis of capitalism rather than some bloody minded policy extremism – though that helps. Capitalism is in a terminal crisis unless it make us pay for its crisis. That's why these workfare policies are the same everywhere and the leading lights of these reforms are people who are neo-conservative intellectuals, politicians or  administrators formerly employed to cut back on social spending in the US and the UK, so there is nothing especially unique about NZ in this regard.


Today the global capitalist system is facing a major crisis of falling profits. Its banks and big corporations can survive only by a massive redistribution of wealth from workers to bosses principally a drastic shift in the burden of taxation from capital to labour. So the growing wealth gap is not a cause of the crisis but its effect. The reason for this is that the wealth of the 1% is due not to rising profits in industry but to speculative fictional profits and policies that cut corporate taxes and force working class taxpayers to fund the bailouts of banks and countries 'too big to fail'.

But this is not enough for capitalism's survival. To solve their crisis of falling profits the bosses must drive down workers' living standards by smashing those remaining unions that stand in the road of contract labour (wharfies, meatworkers, aged care workers) and by removing welfare rights and forcing beneficiaries into the floating reserve army of unemployed and penalised to compete for jobs and driving down wages. This is the real objective of welfare 'reform' - job creation by increased competition for jobs driving down wages and allowing the bosses to create more low paid poverty level jobs!


This working class has met its growing impoverishment with growing resistance. From Tahrir to Oakland their anger is on the rise. So to undermine this resistance the bosses try to isolate and target sections of the working class to blame for the crisis. Militant unions have always been targets - in NZ wharfies, seafarers, meatworkers, teachers, etc. So have welfare beneficiaries, in particular, Maori and Pacifica solo mums and state housing tenants who comprise the so-called 'underclass'. Instead of the capitalist system that creates inequality victimises these groups, it is they who are blamed for the ills of capitalism.

By targeting and demonising Maori (as radicals), migrants (as terrorists), youth (as anarchists), women (as biologically dependent) and those labelled mentally ill, the NACTs show that as the crisis gets more severe they impose more and more repressive attacks on us. The logical outcome of this repression is fascism as the demonised target groups are denied basic human rights. The bourgeois fantasy that "works make us free" is the rationale for workfare just as it was the slogan of the Nazis above the gates of the work camps to cover up the repression and elimination of millions.


The only way to fight back is to unite all these elements of the working class, employed and unemployed including the 'underclass' unionists, students, youth and women, as well as those in the middle class (self-employed, contractors etc) that are also coming under attack, against the capitalist system that exploits and oppresses them. The obvious way to unite workers is in their unions. To win back to the unions the 80% who are not unionised and to unite all members of the working class especially all those who are normally marginalised on the basis of racial minorities, women, lowpaid, casualised or unemployed youth and older people, Lesbian, Gay, Bi- and Trans sexuality, and the current main target of workfare,  beneficiaries especially single mothers.

But as well as mobilising the unions, the rise of the Occupy Movement which includes many workers and middle class who are not unionised, has created a new form of united front in which all those coming under attack can unite as the 99% against the extreme concentration of power and wealth in the 1%. It is time for Occupy and the union rank and file to unite under one program to smash the ruling class and put the 99% in charge.

Smash the NACTs demonisation of the poor! 
For living benefits! 
For 24 hour free childcare! 
Jobs for all on a living wage!
Unite the working class to make the bosses pay for their own crisis.
Build democratic, fighting unions!
Build the occupy movement globally!

Waitemata Branch of Unite is organising  Mayday March and occupation of the WINZ office, 450 Queen St.
Assembly Aotea Square May 1st, at 1 pm.