Monday, March 25, 2019

Class Struggle #128, Autumn, 2019

Health Workers betrayed by "labour" Party

Another year of wage stagnation and dangerous conditions of continued deliberate underfunding of state provided health services. Residents Doctors Association and Midwifes continue to fight while the district health board bosses (DHB) deliberately drag out negotiations (longer than a year of negotiations). 

Members of the Resident Doctors' Association have held four 48-hour strikes so far this year. They are fighting against DHB bosses who want to dictate rosters and extreme shifts. The RDA wants to be able to reject unsafe rosters: Rosters like 10 days on and up to 4 nights in a row. Who would want to be assessed by a doctor in their past day 6 let alone the last hours of that sort of roster?

This government delivers tired doctors to the working people of NZ who need medical services. That is state deliberately funding second class health services to ordinary working class. While the ‘rich enough’ can dip into both public health services and when concerned or dissatisfied access the private specialists. Labour willingly stands by and runs down the public health service which as a by-product is fostering private health providers.

Nurses (NZNO) took repeated strike action and the rank and file repeatedly rejected offers of cost of living increases. However, their leadership sold them only barely repackaged deal, and promises of progress on gender pay equity that could be a decent pay rise. The PSA (Health) also gave in for an equivalent pay deal, below cost of living increases at < 3% per year. Health workforce has been sold pathetic deals by union bureaucracies that are too close to the Labour Party and so demobilise the workforce to stop pressure on a Labour Government.

The labour bureaucracy of the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) was exposed when it failed to support the RDA. Teachers (NZEI & PPTA) and state sector public service association (PSA) voted against basic solidarity. The PSA was even caught out helping the formation of a scab doctor union “SToNZs”, who negotiated a side deal which gave away safe rostering. PSA and NZNO also refuse any deviation from the leaders/bureaucrats who are anti-MERAS. Yes, they compete for members in the health sector, but to also refuse solidarity with workers in struggle such as the Midwives union, is against the wider class interests. That pays into the government and employers’ hands, continuing to underfund health while health sector unions lack solidarity and can be picked off one at a time.

The Labour led government idly sits by and keeps the DHB Budget under screws sticking to a “fiscal cap” – Labour’s self-imposed budget parameters for its efficient running of the capitalist regime. This means all the DHBs have to ration health services and screw down wage bills. There are not enough resources and waitlists are referred back to their GPs to avoid being a real waitlist. Patients in pain or seriously mentally unwell, are more likely to assault health workers. But protection of our health workforce would come with effective treatment and good prevention.

The Labour Party has in effect, abandoned working people and sticks to the capitalists’ limits, now obviously within their own budget responsibility rules, in other words putting profits before working people. It treats the DHBs as private corporations. The government is effectively encouraging DHBs in their anti-worker rostering. We hear DHBs are not employing experienced nurses who are on top RN pay grades if they can get nurses on lower pay grades and save some money. That means less experience on the floor – fewer specialised nurses. Forever training up relatively new nurses is not the rational way to provide good health services.

Health workers also need to treat DHBs as private corporations and demand a living wage by taking strike action building support in the unions and wider working class until they get their demands. Labour will either respond to the pressure by conceding apparent reforms (increasing funding for DHBs) or it will come out as an openly capitalist party doing the bidding of finance capital and sending the army in to replace health workers. (As it did do in the last nurses strikes). And continue subsidising private health providers (many public dollars go to private health operators and profits.  

Either way, it is a united organised working class that is needed to defeat the parties who defend this capitalist regime and to socialise health under workers’ control.

For Fighting Democratic unions under rank and file control!

Socialise Health under Workers Control!

For a Workers Government based on Workers Councils!

Fascists attack New Zealand Mosques

Did NZ lose its innocence on 15th March 2019? No, it lost it in 1991 when it followed the UN and US into the First Gulf War. About the same time Samuel Huntington published The Clash of Civilisations warning of the threat of Islam to Western Civilisation. 30 years of Islamophobia and the never-ending war on terror what do you get? Fascism defending Western capitalist "civilisation" from peaceful Muslims.

The bourgeois blinkered media commentary focuses on the ‘lone wolf’ theory to avoid confronting the reality of the rise of fascism reaching ‘downunder’. The spies weren’t doing their job, our friendly gun laws need a rebore, and give the cops guns. Let’s all hold hands and pray to our diverse gods to keep the evil at bay. But white supremacists are fascists and there is no way the NZ state is going to stop them when global capitalism is destroying the world to defend its barbaric 'civilisation' from 'radical Islam'.

Don't expect the state, even if 'warned', to act against white supremacists. The US surveillance state with its domestic war on terror screams Islamic terror yet 70% of mass killings are done by white supremacists. The cops enforce the white 'civilisation' that was imposed on the rest of the world for centuries, namely capitalism imperialist exploitation and oppression. Now that that system is on its last legs the defenders of that 'civilisation' are the fascists who blame the loss of white rule heritage on its historic victims and target those who advance the cause of the victims.

The Muslims they target are the victims of centuries of Western 'white' 'civilisation'. From the Crusades to the genocide of Syrian people in an 8-year war, it is the victims who are standing up and bringing their 'justice' back to the home countries. The NZ neo-colonial state is part of that story of conquest and oppression 'downunder'. Its racist oppression is still rampant in Australia and NZ. So, what is new? How is the Christchurch attack different from Parihaka?

Since the fascists are defending their mythology of white civilisation they will never be stopped by the modern version of the colonial bosses' state. We have to stop them by smashing them before they seize power. What this means is no-platform for fascists, and smash them in the streets before they can organise a reactionary social movement to wipe out humanity. It is a warning siren to us all that the fascists struck in Christchurch on the same day as the global Students 'fight for life'.

Algeria and the Arab Revolution

Algeria largely missed out on the Arab Spring in 2010 when Tunisia exploded, followed rapidly by Libya, Egypt and Syria. It’s president, Bouteflika was able to stifle the 2011 uprising with concessions to the masses. Today, after 6 weeks of growing mass protests the Algerian masses are making up for it forcing Bouteflika to stand down and delay the elections. But this grudging concession is not satisfying the masses, they are aiming higher at ‘regime change’ and the ‘ruling class’ and are threatening to rekindle the Arab Revolution.

Algeria has all the features of a semi-colony like the rest of MENA oppressed by imperialism. Algeria never escaped the rule of imperialism as its ruling class became its agents in the exploitation and oppression of the people. The crisis of capitalism today demands that the workers’ pay with mass austerity and poverty. Bouteflika claims the legacy of the revolutionary independence war, but like other ‘left’ nationalists, Gaddafi, Saddam, Assad etc, their loyalty is to imperialism not the working people.

This means that the Arab Revolution must be reactivated by the insurgent masses to break from both imperialism and its local political lackeys. This is what we mean by permanent revolution – the fight for national independence becomes the task of the revolutionary party leading the workers and poor peasants to the socialist revolution and a united socialist federation of Arab workers’ states.

The failure of the Libyan and Egyptian masses in 2011 to arm themselves independently of the bourgeoisie accounts for their failure to break from imperialism. In Syria the armed revolution could have defeated Assad had it not been for the armed invasion of Russia and Iran. Can the uprising in Algeria learn these lessons and raise a program that will see workers and poor farmers come to power showing the way forward for the other Arab states? 

There are good signs. The massive demonstrations made up of rural poor, industrial workers and radical youth. The workers can’t live in the old way and are searching for a new way. Workers and poor peasants must organise their own councils and militias now against state repression. The planned general strike must be coordinated and defended to bring down the regime and create a Workers’ Government. However, unless they rapidly build a revolutionary Marxist party and program to guide them on the struggle, they are in danger of being betrayed and defeated by the class enemy posing as reformists, nationalists and fake Marxists.

There will be many diversions ahead. Bouteflika’s party must be thrown out. The opposition are no better. They cannot make concessions to the masses.  Nor is there a national solution since the Algerian masses cannot succeed without the victory of the Egyptian and Syrian masses and the rest of MENA states. The Arab Revolution stands or falls as a totality.  Calls for any compromise with the national bourgeoisie or imperialism, such as a Constituent Assembly (CA), fall well short of victory and must lead to defeat.

The RCIT makes the mistake of calling for a workers’ and poor peasants government based on workers and poor peasants’ councils to ‘convene’ a “revolutionary constituent assembly”. This is putting the revolution into reverse. Workers and Peasants councils are the political base for armed workers power in government.  A CA is a bourgeois parliament. In other words, a popular front. Such a CA would become the focus for counter-revolutionary attempts to destroy a new Workers and Poor Peasants Government. Attaching the word “revolutionary” does not change the class composition of the popular front.

For a revolutionary Marxist party!

Forward to the Algerian socialist revolution!

For a socialist federation of Arab Republics of MENA!

Venezuela faces civil war

Chris Trotter, well-known in NZ as a ‘left’ commentator, rubbishes those calling for revolution to solve the crisis in Venezuela. He describes the power of the armed forces of modern states and then asks revolutionaries “how big is your army?” compared to that of Maduro.  Clearly, he wants workers to put their trust in Maduro to defend Venezuela against any imperialist intervention rather than arm themselves to resist imperialism, win over the ranks of the army, and replace Maduro’s‘Bolivarian’ bourgeois regime with a workers and poor farmers’ government. 
Trotter has always had a distaste for the revolutionary masses, from the time when he wrote off the Red Fed and backed the social democratic road to socialism in Aotearoa in his book No Right Turn. The role of social democracy (those self-proclaimed labourite leaders in the unions and in government) is to disarm the masses and capitulate to the capitalist state. To speak only about how 'socialist' Maduro has a big loyal army ignores the urgency of splitting the ranks from the officer command to supply arms to the workers loyal to Maduro to form militias capable of defeating a determined US-sponsored coup. 
Chile 1973 is evidence of what happens when reformists rely on a self-professed 'socialist' leader who actively opposes arming the masses.  Germany 1919 is an example of armed mutineers capable of taking power being disarmed by a deal between the reformist 2nd International Social Democracy and the German ruling class. The positive example is Russia 1917 when the armed workers, soldiers and peasants’ soviets took power and defended and defeated an imperialist invasion in a four-year civil war. 
The history lesson is, never rely on social democratic politicians or popular fronts if you want to make a revolution. The masses have the ability to arm and defeat the forces of both social democracy and fascism. A current example is the Anti-Fa mobilization in the US recounted in this issue. Social democracy will always slag off the revolutionary left as 'unrealistic', ‘ultraleft’ and ‘sectarian’, as a way of blaming workers for not being ready for revolution.  A cheap and nasty disarming and diverting of workers onto the parliamentary road and into the arms of fascism. 
The most significant test case of armed workers organising today is what is happening in the USA. The dominant but declining world power with a Bonapartist leader (who claims to stand for the nation ‘above classes’ but is covertly serving reactionary classes) capable of moving right to an open fascist regime using petty bourgeois armed gangs to openly attack working class organisations. That is the cue for the outbreak of an armed US civil war, actually a 'class war', between armed workers and armed capitalists that is the inevitable result of the decline and decay of US imperialism. 
Of course, such regimes attempt to suppress the armed masses at home by embarking on more imperialist adventures and invasions of neo-colonies like Venezuela in the name of the ‘war on terror’. US military adventures will come up against its major rivals, Russia and China, causing more genocides and bigger wars.
The outcome, socialism or barbarism, will depend on organized armed worker self defence against a right Bonapartist or Fascist regime, and refusal to fight foreign wars against oppressed countries or imperialist rivals. Just as the German and Russian workers and soldiers did 100 years ago.