Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fight Capitalist Reaction! For Mass Labor-Centered Assemblies and Mobilizations to Smash the Fascist KKK, Nazi and ‘Alt-Right’ Terror!

For Working Class Self Defense against racist white nationalism, white supremacy and fascism!

Build a United Front of working class Black, Brown, Immigrant, LGBTQI, Muslim and Jewish, interfaith and spiritual Communities!

For Mass Labor-Centered Assemblies and Mobilizations to Smash the Fascist KKK, Nazi and ‘Alt-Right’ Terror!

In every union hall and community center build and train disciplined non-sectarian, integrated Labor Self-Defense Guards!


Thousands rally in Boston against fascist terror, August 19th (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)


Emboldened by Trump, neo-Nazis, KKK and other fascist groups have been staging racist mobilizations not only in smaller cities like Charlottesville, but also in major metro urban working class centers such as Berkeley, Boston and Seattle. As shock troops of divisiveness and hate, racist terrorists intend to instill fear among Blacks, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, women, LGBTQI folk in order to divide and crush the multiracial, multi-ethnic, multi gender working class.

Make no mistake, they emerge now not because of Trump but because the unfolding crisis of capitalism has created such disparity that their “American Dream” has crumbled and they scapegoat you for it.

The murder of Heather Heyer and the August 11th-12th provocation have unmasked, for all to see, the fascist underbelly of the mis-named ‘Alt-Right’. Those chanting “blood and soil”, proudly offering up the Nazi salute as they Heil Trump, and cry “Jews will not replace us!” are the vanguard of a nascent fascist movement which if not stopped now will propel the likes of Richard Spencer, Baked Alaska and the Based Stickman into the mainstream. Their leaders (see Vice Interview 8/16) celebrate Charlottesville as a victory and promise more blood, egging on malcontents like those that murdered Heather Heyer, Tyler Magill, beat senseless DeAndre Harris and injured 19 others (five critically). A Trump supporter driving a car into anti-fascist protesters has horrified the world. But “Oathkeepers“ acting as demonstration Marshals lend cover to the fascists’ claims that they are only exercising free speech as they march with tiki torches and attack and brandish and discharge firearms at those who object to them.

Capitalism Creates the Conditions for Fascism

With the world economy still not recovered from the 2008 crisis, with the capitalists still unable to restore their declining rate of profit through the destruction of capital, the US imperialist ruling class, while not willing to engage in a costly fascist experiment at this time, are more USthan willing to keep the fascists in the wings as shock troops to crush a resurgent workers movement. It is the economic outcome of the capitalist crisis that creates the conditions for fascism to grow. So for instance, every sort of supplier, salesman and boss in the construction industry, and many of the formerly privileged labor aristocrats have been ruined by the elimination of 1.7 million jobs in construction that existed before the 2008 stock market crash (Economic Policy Institute of the AFL-CIO, Aug. 18, 2017). It is the ruined middle class (petty bourgeoisie), the small businessmen, professionals, students and the lumpen that have no prospects that are driven to a reactionary despairing frenzy, what Leon Trotsky referred to as white hot capitalist reaction against the working class, that form the social base of fascist movements.

The Communist Workers Group (CWG – USA) agrees with Marxist economist Michael Roberts, author of The Long Depression, that the 2008 economic crisis was primarily brought to a head by the dynamics of the capitalist system itself, by what Karl Marx called the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall (TRPTF).

We agree with Roberts that we are at an economic precipice, that the so-called recovery is weak and that Capital has not restored its lost rate of profit. The U.S. is a declining imperialist power and the days of post-WW II and the post 1989 unipolar hegemony are waning. Trump promised to “make America great again,” but that is just populist demagoguery. Capitalism is a history of peaks and troughs, with every crisis having a tendency to become sharper and longer. The stock market right now is peaking, with the media selling us full employment and inflated stock prices that don’t reflect the profit rates. And Trump’s full employment claims that the media hypes are based on the average wage and do not take into account workers trying to survive on sub-living wages. The stock brokerage newsletter “Gains, Pains & Capital,” quoting the IRS, showed a real decline in collected payroll taxes in April for 2016 vs. ‘15. For many youth, a college degree means heavy school loan debt and grim job prospects. Trump is a product of the capitalist system which in crisis produces the fascist resurgence as an option to seemingly expensive bourgeois parliamentary democracy. These reactionary forces instead of blaming capitalism blame Jewish bankers, Blacks, Latinos, immigrants, women, LGBTQI folk and leftists (Marxists and anarchists) for shrinking business opportunities.

Historically, the relatively “privileged” layers of the middle class and lumpenized elements are drawn to white nationalism and white supremacy because it gives them an “other” to blame for the economic crisis they are powerless over. They are powerless because their middle class and lumpenized condition is separated from the social relations of production. They have neither the investable resources of big capital nor their hands on the levers of production as does the working class. Only capital and labor have real power in society. Fascism is an existential threat to the existence of the organized working class. It is crucial that the working class organize and mobilize to drive the fascist KKK, Nazis and other ‘Alt-Right’ racists from the streets.

The fascist groups focus their recruitment efforts on a ‘no hope’ generation of students at elite colleges and universities, but this is not their exclusive focus. Where prisons are schools for revolution, such as at Attica in the early 1970’s, since the ‘80s prisons have been recruiting grounds for Nazis and similar groups. We notice a growth of Ku Klux Klan style groups, and these have pulled in members of the ‘no hope’ generation in the Bible Belt Christian right milieu of small-town America, as well as lumpenized Iraq and Afghan war veterans. Naturally, as more usually the case historically, the ruined small family farmers are a source of recruits too. We see foremen workers’ anxiety over their mortgages and kids’ future. We see the former union membership that are now “independent contractors” driving for Uber to try to make ends meet. For all of these there has to be a scapegoat explanation of their misery where Marxism makes no challenge to puncture it. We begin puncturing it here and today.

Trump is not a fascist, but a racist, reactionary populist “know-nothing” wannabe Bonapartist who has few qualms about putting the wind in the sails of the Nazis, KKK and other ‘Alt-Right’ groups. Are we at a turning point now after the recent fascist mobilizations? The fascist ranks are split with lots of different factions and they have not coalesced into a mass fascist organization. They don’t have a lot of ideological differences to sort out, though. Right now their donors are testing who can build a fascist movement. In response to those who say ‘ignore them and they will go away,’ it is essential for the working class to recall that Mussolini started with 54 in his outfit and Hitler joined the German Workers Party when it had 100 members or less. Their rapid growth was repeated in Greece in 2009 with the Golden Dawn which emerged from the slime during the crisis only to be projected onto the national scene gaining significant percentages of the popular vote in the last two elections. So it is imperative to keep our eyes on our biggest enemies, such as the capitalists and foundations who fund the racist organizations such as “ACT For America” coalition. We have identified a list of the donors.

The ruling class knows they are sitting on a tinderbox and they rightly fear a class conscious working class mobilized for class struggle under our own banner. But right now, the normal methods of bourgeois ‘democracy’ are sufficient for them to maintain their class rule. They have their two major political parties, the Democrats and Republicans, which the working class is tied to, along with a servile labor bureaucracy, a decimated labor movement and a weak ‘Left’ without revolutionary working class leadership. Capital right now rules by throwing in state repression here and there; unleashing their racist cops, La Migra and the National Guard against the working class and oppressed; and they are keeping the fascists as their shock troop reserve, waiting in the wings ready to crush the workers movement if necessary. So this is not a turning point, the fascist movement is too toxic for the established Right to outwardly embrace right now. Indeed Trump and the recently ousted Bannon are increasingly isolated from the ‘mainstream’ of bourgeois politics, but this could change very quickly. August 10th saw a 3-day stock market drop that had the billionaires freaking out, which follows the 2016 major contraction internationally in investment in production (see UNCTAD, World Investment Report 2017). It is not just Michael Roberts saying the world economy is not stable, the bourgeoisie knows it too. They recognize the class war and they come to the fight prepared.

Charlottesville, Trump, and the Democratic Party

The aftermath of Charlottesville saw Trump initially refusing to condemn the fascists outright and blamed “all sides” and said the answer is “law and order.” Then two days later bowing down to pressure, he denounced the KKK/Nazis as “repugnant”, then backtracked again and blamed both sides to the satisfaction of Klansman David Duke. Even the bourgeoisie was troubled by the fascist terror in Charlottesville as it sparked outrage worldwide and drew too much attention to the reality of racism in capitalist America. Better to keep things like this in the shadows to maintain the aura of respectability. Former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, Mitch McConnell, and five military joint chiefs denounced the fascists in Charlottesville as did multiple Democratic and Republican politicians, which is easy enough to do. Trump has brought a lot of unnecessary overhead and instability to bourgeois “democratic” class rule that threatens to explode into mass struggle against capitalism. A large percentage of workers and youth are sympathetic to socialism. Workers, women, the Black, Brown and immigrant communities, LGBTQI folk and youth are sick of the con game.

A “red-brown” alliance is crystallizing in Democratic Party circles at the same time as states are banning demonstrations. Consider how many times the Workers World Party (WWP) has endorsed Democratic Party candidates, from at least 1975 down to today. This despite their support for Muammar Khaddafi and the Assad dynasties. This puts them in league with the “Christian” rightists and David Duke.; and so far this has only caused them to shrug. “Tankies” like the WWP and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) dismiss the operation of the laws of history. (The WWP et. al. see anti-imperialism behind every comprador upstart where the fascists see them more clearly as the capitalist thugs and anti-Semites they are.) Their political coincidence with the fascists is not accidental. It is the expression of their petty-bourgeois class identity operating inescapably in the crisis. And we can expect fascism to grow at the expense of the ranks of petty-bourgeois socialism, as it did in the 1930s. Take a look at this!

Ex fascist Christian Picciolini interviewed on Democracy Now on 8/18/17:

“You know, I, myself, have a very checkered past. When I was involved in the movement, I was invited to Libya by Muammar Gaddafi to receive money to start a revolution against the Jews. I committed acts of violence that nearly killed many people. I stockpiled weapons to prepare for what I believed was an inevitable race war.”
And this!…, During a visit to Syria in 2005 David Duke’s speech was translated by the state media:
“Following Duke’s statement praising Assad, the crowd was shown chanting, “Our soul and our blood we will sacrifice for you, Bashar.”
“It saddens my heart to tell you that part of my country is occupied by Zionists,” Duke said, “just as part of your country, the Golan Heights, is occupied by Zionists. [They] occupy most of the American media and now control much of the American government…It is not just the West Bank of Palestine, it is not just the Golan Heights that are occupied by the Zionists, but Washington D.C. and New York and London and many other capitals of the world.”

To Survive, the Working Class Had Better Fight

Teamsters Local 544 Worker Defense guard that drove the fascist Silver Shirts from the Twin Cities in the 1930's and 1940's

Antifa has risen to prominence in the wake of Charlottesville and other fascist mobilizations. Along with Redneck Revolt and the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) General Defense Committee, anarchist workers and youth have been at the forefront in defending the anti-fascist demonstrations against attack. Antifa has come under fire by Democratic Party liberals, the ACLU, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and so-called progressive activists, for “violence,” implicitly if not explicitly equating them with the Nazis and KKK. These groups effectively repeat Trump, Fox and the likes of ex-Vice reporter gone solo, Tim Pool’s “violence on both sides” denunciations. Self-styled anarchist Chomsky chimed in and even called Antifa a “major gift to the Right” and he claims that denying the fascists a platform is “wrong in principle”.

The Klan and Nazis are not a debate club, but paramilitary right-wing organizations who incite and commit racist terror. They are a mortal danger to the workers movement and all their intended targets. Their idea of free speech is as expressed by Dylann Roof, Timothy McVeigh and James Fields. Their ‘free speech’ technique is the noose, the bullet and the bomb. With the support of Breitbart News, Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting, they propagate a program of “Free Speech, (Confederate) Heritage Defense and Anti-Marxism.” The fascists use their rallies as a recruiting ground for their genocidal program. Under the cover of ‘Alt-Right’ acceptability, the “very fine people” Trump refers to are arming for race war and establishing a whites-only United States where they will be the capitalists’ state, the one legal ‘body of armed men.’

The Communist Workers Group (CWG) is not against peaceful demonstrations, but we are against a one-sided class peace where the masses are left defenseless. Liberals cheer when Governor McAuliffe bans all demonstrations at Confederate Statues and other white power monuments, little realizing they have handed the fascists a victory for free. It does not bother this “Resistance” that they have joined in denying the working class and those targeted by the fascists their right to self-defense! Demonstrating by the tens of thousands against the fascists in Boston does nothing to overturn the “no demonstrations” laws in 20 states. The fascists will never respect these laws and the police will never enforce these anti-free speech laws against fascists! Pacifism in the face of white supremacy only serves to politically and literally disarm the masses and is suicidal. The lessons of history are clear enough for those who do not wish to be fooled and misled. 

No more Dachau or Auschwitz! The CWG remembers the heroism of the 1943 Jewish Warsaw Ghetto fighters and the Soviet and Jewish prisoners of Sobibor! We honor the Auschwitz-Birkenau Jewish revolt of 1944!
The history of the labor movement and other social struggles in the United States has witnessed self-defense organizations take shape, from workers picket lines to defend a strike, to the 1930’s-40’s Minneapolis Teamsters defense guard that drove the fascist Silver Shirts from the Twin Cities, to Robert F. Williams and the Deacons for Defense and Justice who organized in the face of KKK terror, to the Black Panthers against racist cop terror. Self-defense is a necessity of the moment tactic, not a strategy of so-called ‘violence’. Today Antifa fills the vacuum left by the shame-faced union bureaucracy and their socialist apologists who in their fetishized pacifism refuse to build (or even contemplate) building workers self-defense organizations.

As Charlottesville showed, as heroic and defensible as Antifa’s actions are, their political program of organized groups of leftists attacking the white supremacists has limitations, especially if the balance of forces are equal. Antifa turns what can be adventurous confrontations from a tactic to a strategy. The day before the main rally in Charlottesville saw the white supremacists marching at the University of Virginia with tiki torches and chanting anti-Semitic slogans, a surreal modern-day version of the Nazi Brownshirt marches. This caused the famous half-stepper, ‘the left Reverend’ Cornel West to say that only the presence of 350 Antifa outside the church where he and 20 church folk were singing ‘this little light of mine’ saved them from the fascists surrounding the church. West misses or refuses to make the important point. The relationship of forces was adequate on August 11th-12th; but this won’t guarantee anyone’s safety in days to come. We need, like water or air, mass Labor, Black and Brown workers’ defense guards, trained and armed to defeat fascists and white supremacists! It is worse than useless to repeat the insane idea to trust the FBI or other government agencies to “handle” sociopathic forces that are creations of the ruling class!

August 12th Charlottesville videos show the fascists marching through the crowd in a very organized manner, attacking the anti-fascist protesters. Three armed fascists were posted outside a synagogue. Antifa courageously defended the demo. Sporadic confontations with the fascists by a relatively small number of Antifa are no substitute for the forces required for working class victory: history shows these are mass organized trained and disciplined contingents of Labor, Black and Brown self-defense guards organized from out of our union halls. Such displays of the power of labor will send the fascists scurrying. The workers movement cannot allow the fascists to march through our towns and attack oppressed peoples and the anti-fascist demonstrators. Labor defense guards and mass mobilizations of workers centered on the unions are not on Antifa’s political radar. In a Democracy Now! interview, the author of the upcoming Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook barely mentions the working class, and then only in the context of Redneck Revolt, a worker self-defense organization that focuses on organizing working class whites against capitalism and white supremacy. In Charlottesville, Redneck Revolt successfully defended their safe rally site from fascist provocations, to their credit.

The very powerful ILA (International Longshoremen’s Association) with a heavy concentration of black proletarians and with ports organized along the East and Gulf coasts, were only a few hours away from Charlottesville. What was needed in Charlottesville and everywhere was the mobilization of the actual mass of the organized working class that works in strategic industries.

There is a big and qualitative difference in social power between several hundred or thousand Antifa workers from various atomized industries and workplaces and organized, militant and disciplined trade union contingents from the ILA and other unions. The police are less likely to attack the anti-fascists where the ILA manifests the power to shut down the ports. It also doesn’t sit well with the millions of other trade unionists to see their sisters and brothers beaten by the cops or terrorized by Klansmen, Nazis or white supremacist college preppies. And labor defense guards organized today against fascists and racist cop terror can also be mobilized tomorrow to defend picket lines and seize workplaces.

The ILA and the ILWU (International Longshore & Warehouse Union) has mobilized against the KKK before, notably in 1982 in Washington DC. ILWU Local 10 have pledged to march in San Francisco on August 26th where the white supremacist Patriot Prayer organization is staging a ‘free speech’ provocation. The Alameda Labor Council (AFL-CIO Central Labor Council) has endorsed the “peaceful” counter protest in Berkeley at the UCB campus, some blocks away from the fascist “Anti-Marxism” rally at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park (!!!) on the 27th. Of course, just like AFL-CIO President Trumka’s and other labor bureaucrats’ denunciation of the Nazis and white supremacists, these are public pronouncements that do little to mobilize the heavy battalions of labor to fight. The trade union bureaucracy is busy preparing for the next election cycle to revive the fortunes of the Democratic Party, not mobilizing the ranks to fight.

The Bay Area Rally against Hate coalition made up of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the International Socialist Organization (ISO), the Morenoites, USec, Labor Rising, and other leftists, and the Berkeley Democrats, along with a smattering of workers — this popular front club is going to hold their ‘non-violent’ rally on August 27th, not where the white supremacists are rallying, but on the “other side of Downtown”. If what is desired is putting the local fascisti to rout, this is demobilization of the struggle. This is a demobilization if what is desired is a pedagogy in action that increases worker militancy.

Putting the fascists to rout and increasing worker militancy is the historic occupation of the vanguard, who will demand Jobs for All, sharing the available work at no cut in pay (30 hours work for 40 hours pay), Free Universal Quality Medical Care (socialized medicine), Free Universal Quality Education from daycare thru post graduate. To win, new unions and old must assemble a unionized army of the unemployed to demand work at union wages for all. Mass meetings of the working people and the oppressed can then discuss how to fight for every demand arising from their social situation, including transitional demands that place socialism on the order of the day, such as nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy under workers control without indemnification to the major shareholders. By degrees workers can win some concessions and/or learn why they cannot under the dictatorship of capital, and it will be their own revolutionary workers party who teaches this lesson and why workers must take political power to plan the economy and have any future. Democratize our unions to fight for working class political independence! Break with all bourgeois parties and their parliamentary fetish! For a Fighting Workers/Labor Party that fights for a workers government!

What the anarchists, the Antifa, Redneck Revolt and much of the rest of the Left miss is the organization and mobilization of the international working class as a class under our own banner united in a revolutionary international workers party and armed with a revolutionary political program to sweep fascism and capitalism away. To defeat all imperialisms internationally we must defeat fascism too!

Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains! For world socialism!

Reposted Class War Supplement

Trump Plays with Fire in Korea

Kin and Trump
Trump is reviving Bush junior’s bellicose approach to the DPRK which carries great risks for the whole world.

By revving up the ‘axis of evil’ scenario Trump risks global destruction for the sake of what: tourism? In his bizarre phone conversation with the Governor of Guam he boasts that the publicity will boost Guam’s hotel occupancy to 110%, and that anyway Trump backs Guam 1000%. A fat lot of comfort that will give to the citizens of Guam many of whom see themselves as ‘pawns’ in the US global game of chess.

China, according an Editorial in the the semi-official Global Times, sees the war of words between Trump and Kim Jong-un as a “Reckless Game”. It states what is likely to be the official China line.

"The US and North Korea have both ramped up their threatening rhetoric. The Pentagon has prepared plans for B-1B strategic bombers to make preemptive strikes on North Korea’s missile sites. US Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued an ultimatum to North Korea on Wednesday to “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people. Meanwhile, North Korea issued plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles to land 30-40 kilometers from Guam and claimed it would finalize the plan by mid-August."

If these threats are acted on that would seriously escalate the war of words in a shooting match. China would likely not intervene at this level but promises to do so if there is any attempt to invade the DPRK by the US and the ROK.
"China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral. If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so."

The prospect of a hot war between China and the US over Korea is dangerous for everyone in the region including New Zealand. It would risk escalation into nuclear war and that war becoming the dreaded WW3. China is currently trying to persuade both Trump and Kim Jong-un to back off. But it could not sit back while the DPRK is directly attacked or invaded. So why is Trump trumping the most belligerent of US Presidents George Bush in the level of threats made against the DPRK?

Is Trump such a maverick that he can’t tell the difference between what is good for business and what is good for humanity? Even ‘casino Capitalism’ requires punters. Clearly there is room for moderating the Bush bellicosity in the direction of Clinton’s negotiated deals on nuclear proliferation. Clinton knew that the DPRK regime was an anachronism, a failed state, and not some threat to US interests. Obama continued this policy recognising that the DPRK was a small fish in its own tank compared with an expansive China. So is this crisis down to Trump’s personality, the back-to-the-Great-USA fundamentalism of his militant support base pushing Trump into war, or is there something deeper driving this?

The global forces that are behind this crisis are those of a renewed rivalry between the declining US imperialist bloc, and the rising China/Russia imperialist bloc. The US has dominated the Pacific since the end of WW2. It defeated Japan and established its allies and bases in the region including the armistice on the 38th parallel in Korea separating the ROK and DPRK. But the US failed to stop the Chinese revolution and having worked hard since Nixon went to China in 1974 to restore capitalism and destroy “communism” eventually got its wish but was unable to reap the prize – a servile client state to inject some life into the US economy.

Instead of succumbing as new colonies of Western imperialism with the end of the cold war, both China and Russia as former ‘workers’ states’, used their state controlled economies to deny the West their prize of conquest. Both opened up to the West but more or less on their own terms. Western investment was quarantined within these state capitalist regimes to benefit the ‘red’ capitalists. Today, both are emerging as rivals to the declining US imperialism. And as is always the case with declining capitalist powers they cannot compete economically so they do so militarily. But today, the US is no longer the ‘hegemonic’ global power facing China’s economic dominance and Russia’s military technology.

So Trump’s foreign policy in Asia, while adventurous, is an inevitable expression of this rise and fall of great powers. Korea is one of a number of flash points around the world between the two imperialist blocs where the US faces the rising influence of China/Russia including Ukraine, Syria, the South China Sea. All these flash points are evidence that the rivalry between the old and new imperialist powers explains what is going on in the world.

More importantly, all these imperialist powers are facing a global, terminal crisis as the global system stagnates. While they are competing in Europe, the Middle East and Asia with economic and political sanctions, and fighting proxy wars, facing termination, these wars must escalate into regional and ultimately global extermination. So what we are seeing in Korea today is the prospect of a cold war on words that spreads to hot wars between nuclear powers.

It is not in the interests of any power to go to world war as it would destroy not only the enemy but any economic base for survival of the human species. The problem is that such wars can start by accident, or by crazy “Dr Strangelove” actors who push the wrong button. So what can we do to try to stop such a catastrophe?

For a start we should tell our NACT regime not to follow the Australian example of unconditional support for Trump. NZ is a semi-colony of the US AND China. Politically our ruling class it is client of the US, economically it is a client of China. Both are imperialist powers which exploit the NZ economy at the expense of NZ workers. We must be against the intervention of both (all) powers on the Korean Peninsular and refuse to support any request to side with one or other. Not because NZ has an international reputation for peacekeeping which is a lie as our intervention on Afghanistan proves. Our neutrality should be against any war in which a small power becomes a pawn in the fight between two global powers because as a semi-colony ourselves we defend the right of other semi-colonies to be independent of imperialist domination.

So our neutrality does not extend to Korea itself. We are for its self-determination which in simple language means independence from all imperialist powers. During the Korean war the left in NZ was split between the Stalinist, Maoist and Trotskyist left that defended the DPRK as having a legitimate claim to oust the US from the ROK and create a united socialist Korea. The rest of the anti-war movement had illusions in the UN armistice as creating ‘peace’ in denial of the ongoing ‘class war’ that shapes our destinies.

Today we have to take the same stand against China’s threat to intervene to defend the DPRK. This turns Korea into the site of another proxy war between imperialists over who controls Korea. Korean working people must determine their own future in a united Korea. They must be supported by the billions of working people around the world who lives are at stake can change this by organising into a global anti-imperialist movement.

This is why we urgently need a left in NZ that is anti-imperialist through and through rather than pacifist with illusions in the UN. That is the only way to unite workers in both Koreas, China, the US and the rest of the Pacific, against the imperialist regimes and their client regimes that a pushing for war and risking global catastrophe. In playing with fire in Korea Trump is playing with all of our lives. To survive we need Survival Socialism.

NZ Labour Party returns to 19th century Liberalism; NZ workers must advance to 21st century Survival Socialism

Jacinda Ardern speaks to the press alongside members of her party after Andrew Little stepped down in Wellington, New Zealand
Jacinda Ardern elected leader of Labour Party backed by senior party supporters (Reuters)

So the centrist ABCs finally took power with Andrew Little as the last surviving notable tie to the unions gone and a Generation Y professional politician now leading the party. Chris Trotter goes into raptures that this can be a ‘revolution’. Not the old fashioned one led by armed Reds, but by hipsters it seems. A gentler, kinder, peaceful, 21st century revolution in the image of Lennon, not Lenin.

But where is the substance to complete this style says Mike Treen. Labour needs a Corbyn who adds substance to this style. Let’s see Jacinda Ardern come up with policies that turn on the missing million workers turned off by elitist, distant, self-serving politicans. But Treen is too late. I agree with his comrade Joe Carolan that Labour is dead and that no amount of prettifying the corpse will do any thing for NZ workers. However, for those who hope labour can return from the dead, I suggest that this is not a zombie movie but a death from which there is no return. Labour has been pronounced dead by the ‘missing million’ as the party that no longer represents workers.

I suggest we look to see what disease Labour died of. When the NZLP was founded in 1916 it it was to divert the labour movement away from industrial struggles that divided the nation and threatened the future of capitalist profitability. It’s purpose was to take control of the majority of workers and split them from the Red Feds, anarchists and socialists who were committed to radical industrial action to negotiate their wages and conditions. Labour promised to win what workers needed through parliamentary reforms. It would impose the 1890s Liberal IC&A Act – that ‘arbitrated’ agreements between workers and bosses that had split the Labour movement and given rise to the Red Fed – and make Arbitration compulsory. Labour therefore was the party of the state controlled unions until compulsory arbitration was repealed by Labour in 1987 and compulsory unionism by the NACTs in 1992, which together broke the back of the unions’ resistance to neo-liberalism, taking workers back to the 1880s.

The NZLP had inflicted a mortal wound on itself. To serve its purpose as the Party that could reconcile workers to capitalism it needed to represent the unions and its membership to have any claim to be a workers party. It had to win a majority based on a working class constituency if it was to be useful to the ruling class. 1984 changed all that because Labour abandoned its founding principle of advancing the interests of workers and instead made workers pay for the capitalist crisis facing NZ by introducing Rogernomics.

Despite this historic betrayal the union bosses fought to keep Labour alive so that when the New Labour split occurred only a few small unions left Labour for NL. The NL split was premature and fizzled out as NL joined forces in an amalgam of Greens, Liberals and Mana Motuhake that became the Alliance. Labour survived by expelling its right wing faction which became ACT but under a succession of new leaders remained a Blairite, Third Way party trying to achieve a classless balance between capitalism and socialism – the notorious ‘middle’ [class]. It has not renounced its neo-liberal turn because getting the state out of business and policing fiscal responsibility is the new normal and Labour cannot serve its purpose unless it reconciles workers to the neo-liberal market and its brutal attacks on workers.

But surviving the near death experience had a cost. Labour lost its working class mojo and could no longer count on a majority from the labour movement. The NACTs continued their anti-worker attacks and drove some workers back to Labour, not because they believed in Labour as ‘their’ party but because it was the lesser evil. Labour had lost its reason to exist. The unions were gutted by the NACTs ECA in 1992 and ceased to be a force capable of sustaining the party. The Labour caucus’ focus on the ‘middle class’ reinforced the ‘neoliberal’ ideology that unions no longer served workers who had to rely on their individual efforts to get ahead.

Labour was in limbo with its traditional role overtaken by the new role of representing a classless utopia of petty bourgeois ‘middle NZ’. Under Helen Clark Labour sold itself as the natural party of the centre-left majority. To sell this it needed to compete openly with the NACTs whose history gave it much greater claim to represent the growling petty bourgeoisie. After all the NACTs originated as a farmers party and with urban petty capitalists very much in tow. Labour’s fate then was to abandon its working class constituency – the missing million – and recreate itself as the bland, Blairite, ‘classless’ party.

To do this it had to present itself as the alternative to the NACTs which has close links to the capitalist ruling class that owns business, including the media; a burgeoning new petty bourgeoisie in the cities and a new rural gentry getting rich off dairying. Every leader who stood up to claim this title was shot down by the caucus of Blairite time-servers until Andrew Little, the last vestige of Labourite ties to the union bosses, was forced to resign. Ardern’s ‘fresh’ style may attract more votes from the middle, but it is the death knell of Labour devoid of substance as the party of workers in Aotearoa/NZ.

Yet, only the death knell, because what will finally kill off Labour in the end is not its failure to advance workers interests, it is its open renunciation of its duty to attempt to do that by joining with the Greens and NZFirst to form a government. Labour parties, and social democracy in general, can always come back from the dead so long as workers live in hope. But by forming a coalition with openly capitalist parties like the Greens and NZ First, as even critics like Mike Treen advocate, sends Labour back to where it began, the Liberals of the 1890s.

The Liberal party was a cross-class party of workers, small farmers and the unemployed. Its philosophy was the reconcilation of classes under the Liberal Democratic state that stood for the self-governing nation within the British Empire. Sometimes referred to as a ‘liberal-labour’ or populist party because it contained an open contradiction between farmers and labourers that was suppressed by the submersion fusion (and diffusion) of class in the nation state; a state once called ‘proto-fascist’ by historian Willis Airey. This reconciliation could not last as the Liberals blew apart when workers rose up against the IC&A Act to form the Red Fed. Farmers split from the labourers and were enrolled as special police – Massey’s Cossacks – to smash the Red Fed, with farmers forming the Reform Party and defeated workers the Labour Party.

Labour has come full circle. It has finally renounced the existence of class politics in Aotearoa and transformed itself into the ‘classless’ populist Liberal Party that is preparing to fuse its program with the Greens and NZFirst who both represent the petty bourgeoisie in NZ. It this government eventuates, it will limit its program to that acceptable to a NZ ruling class facing a global slump in profits and climate crash dooming its future. This can only mean that the working class will again be sacrificed to the holy grail of a property owning democracy about to succumb to imperialist war and near extinction.

Workers now have no alternative but to struggle to take control of their own lives by breaking with the parliamentary farce and the bourgeois nation state, to organise their own independent mass Labour party and a new Red Fed, able to fight the class struggle in the workplace and the streets as part of a global mobilisation of workers, unemployed, poor farmers and oppressed peoples for survival socialism against a dying capitalism and rush to human extinction.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Zimbabwe: Fees must be smashed!

29 Jun


On Monday the 26th of June 2017 medical students at the University of Zimbabwe staged a massive demonstration at the offices of the University Vice Chancellor protesting against a 100% increase in tuition fees. In response, the University management harassed, assaulted students using private security guards. As if that was not enough, about 600 medical students were evicted from the hall of residents and thrown into the street. The Revolutionary Workers Group of Zimbabwe (RWG-Z) fully supports the struggle by medical students and all students against all forms of fees. Fees must be smashed and not fall.

This recent demonstration by the medical students puts back onto the limelight the historic and important struggle for free, quality, universal and progressive education in the service of human needs and not for the service of the callous capitalist system in its various manifestations. The call for free education from primary to tertiary level is not an abstract concept in Zimbabwe or the world over. From independence in 1980 and up to the early 1990s government greatly subsidised education up to tertiary or college levels with many the bureaucrats championing austerity measures being beneficiaries of subsidised education. This was a result of the social pressure exerted on the state soon after independence and also as a tactic by the government to build a political base as it struggled to gain a foothold on state monopoly. Education, health and other basic services became accessible to a majority of the poor people in direct contrast to the colonial period where such services were only available and subsidised to the white minority. In a limited way, the Stalinist and radical nationalist measures adopted by the government at independence went a long way in providing basic needs to the poor as well as showing the potential for a fully state controlled state in the interest of the poor masses.

All this was reversed from the early 1990s onwards as the ZANU-PF government embarked on an IMF/WB sponsored liberalisation of socio-economic life under the programme termed Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP).Under this economic plan and subsequent ones, the state was forced to open the industries and public institutions to private concerns and international competition resulting in job losses, unavailability and unaffordability of basic serves like education. Students from Early Child Development classes (preparatory stage) up to University/college are required to pay for their studies. This has resulted in a number of dropouts along the academic path as many cannot afford the fees demanded upfront. The economic crisis in the country since 2000 buttressed by the global recession of 2008 forced the government to attack students and the poor even more as the government embarks on a brutal austerity drive. The education sector is now in shambles owing to massive cuts in public spending and poor remuneration of staff demanded by imperialism.

The attacks on students can only be seen in the context of the general social and international context of austerity measures by states as they try to force on workers and the poor masses the cost of the economic crisis. As such the struggle by students for free education must be linked to the fight against austerity, dictatorship, capitalism and imperialism. Government does not implement austerity or anti poor measures out of stupidity but as a deliberate reaction to a need of the system they serve. They is nothing personal about capitalist brutality. Only a proper understanding of the causes of the attacks on education, jobs and other basic services can inform a correct response to the issues affecting the education sector and society at large.

The fight for free education remains urgent. Ordinary students must not wait for the initiative from elected leaders most of whom become compromised once elected. Neither should they rely on the initiative of oppositional political formations whose various Manifestos seek to deepen and entrench the assault on education. All the talk of being pro students is just but campaign rhetoric that will be easily dumped once elected into office. Apart from ordinary students forcing the leadership or taking independent initiative there is need for ideological clarity on the causes of the state of the education sector so that correct demands and strategies can be posed. As students would say “the struggle continues unabated!”

These demands should be posed:
  • Reinstatement of all medical students into halls of residents!
  • For free, quality, universal and progressive education from primary to tertiary level!
  • Abolition of all fees at all levels of education and for all basic social services!
  • Public works to build schools, colleges and public infrastructure!
  • A living wage and good working conditions to all educational staff and all workers!
  • To provide education for all big and imperialist assets must be nationalised and put under workers control and self-management!
  • For a workers state that defends students, workers and peasants against the local and foreign capitalists!
  • For a workers and peasants’ government on the basis of the armed people to implement decisions that benefit the workers, students and the poor!
  • For an African socialist revolution as part of the international revolution that alone can guarantee a better life for all!
  • For a new world party of socialist revolution based on the transitional program of 1938 to lead the revolution to end capitalism and open the road to socialism!

29 June 2017, Harare Zimbabwe
Revolutionary Workers Group of Zimbabwe (RWG-Z)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Suicide is about Alienation

Good on Mike King for attacking the gutless, shamefaced, official line on suicide as part of the problem not the solution. And cheers to The Daily Blog for acting as a forum on suicide with activists like Dave Macpherson and Martyn Bradbury exposing the failures of the health system. While we agree that we need to change the official response to suicide, that should be based on what causes suicide. We will argue that suicide is a desperate act of refusal against a powerless, de-humanising, alienated life under capitalism. But so long as the official line of taking the fight against suicide out of the hands of people and keeping it as a function of the bureaucracy, judiciary and medical profession remains, the epidemic of suicide will continue. Not until suicide is properly debated and its causes fully understood can any real solutions be found. An independent inquiry is a start in that process.

Competing theories of suicide
To reduce suicide to a personal choice, something wrong with the genes, or neo-liberal social policy, is to mistake the symptoms for the cause. There is a long trail of bankrupt theories strewn along the painful history of this subject. First, there is the history of the Church, especially the Catholic church, of reducing suicide to a sin in the eyes of God. Who would know? Then there is the mainline bourgeois culture of rampant Western individualism that suicides are ‘failures’ who haven’t found ‘success’ in the market. Both of these superstitions form the underbelly of attitudes toward suicide today. Then there are attempts to find measurable causes that can be traced back to impacts on the individuals of social relations which can then be isolated and treated as ‘abnormal’ or ‘deviant’ by medicine or social policy.
Most notable was Emile Durkheim the French sociologist who wrote ‘Suicide: a study in sociology’ in 1897. Durkheim was a ‘positivist’, someone who observed behaviour and looked for correlations and patterns to infer causes. He found 4 types of suicide based on supposed differences in causation. (1) Egoistic: caused by the excessive individualism of modern (capitalist) society. (2) Anomic: the result of a lack of social norms and institutions that support the individual. (3) Altruistic: due to a lack of strong individual traits when facing authority. 4) Fatalistic: suicide resulting from overwhelming social pressures. The two examples he used were slaves and married women.
Durkheim proposed social policies for each type. Egoistic and Anomic suicides could he prevented by creating new social institutions to recreate the mechanical solidarity (eg extended family and village life) of pre-capitalist society to support individuals. Altruistic and Fatalistic suicides were more problematic because they involved critiquing military and family authority both of which Durkheim endorsed as necessary for capitalism to function. In fact he supported the authority of husbands over wives and opposed divorce. In any event, these tinkerings with social policy have failed to get to the root causes of suicide in the century or more since. The sociology of suicide has fixated on symptoms while the state bureaucracies and the medical profession prescribe “good science” but continue to ignore the fundamental causes.
The most promising 19th century line of attack on suicide was that of Marx which began 50 years before Durkheim. It was not the social effects of capitalism that were the causes but the social relations of capitalism itself. For Marx, the basic cause of all social ills was the alienation of individuals from their labour though this also affected those who lived off that labour – the bourgeoisie. Marx never studied suicide as such, but in 1845 he commented on the work of French statistician and police chief Peuchet, who found an obvious correlation between three young bourgeois females subjected to extreme family abuse (spousal abuse and public humiliation for sexual ‘deviancy’) and their suicides by drowning in the river Seine.
Marx concluded that the common cause was alienation from one’s labour, but more concretely in these cases, alienation in the bourgeois family in which women were the ‘slaves’ of their husbands. Proletarians are alienated, but women are also alienated from their husbands in the bourgeois family. And as the bourgeois family was the model for the proletarian family, working class wives became the “proletarians of the proletariat”. So, to clear the way for socialism the bourgeois “family must be destroyed in theory and practice.”
Does revolution stop suicide?
Before looking as more recent attempts to apply “good science” to suicide, it is worth pausing to consider the “theory and practice” of the Bolshevik revolution and its impact on suicide. Marx’s theory predicts that the end of capitalism would bring an end to alienation and the beginning of real humanism. The end of the bourgeois family would empower women and liberate them from domestic slavery. What is the evidence? First, the freedom from oppression was such that human creativity blossomed in all walks of life. Workers’ control of the state and industry empowered them to make their own lives free of the shackles of capitalist social relations. The place of women became more equal. The bourgeois institutions of marriage and the family underwent massive changes.
The result was that among those who made the revolution and participated democratically in building the new society, suicides were almost nil. Workers were no longer alienated from their labour by capital. They controlled their labour collectively by democratic decisions in the Soviets which planned production on the basis of need. A new individual began to emerge, the proletarian individual. The proletariat was within reach of creating ‘humanity’.  Such were the expectations of a new order that the reversal of these conditions brought the inevitable downfall and with it, waves of suicides.
For Trotsky, the degeneration of the revolution brought about a reversal of these new freedoms. Underlying this reversal was the failure of the revolution in Europe and the isolation of the Soviet Union. The ideals of the revolution came under increasing challenge. In the attempt to negotiate a peace with Germany the vast areas of the South were devastated. The civil war against imperialist invasion required a war economy where the state took more central powers and reduced those of the soviets. To feed the troops the peasantry had their product requisitioned. This turned many peasants against the workers state, and in particular the Bolsheviks. The Kronstadt rebellion was ruthlessly put down. The New Economic Policy virtually restored capitalism in the countryside to feed the industrial workers.
The growing concentration of power in the state disillusioned many and the state responded by clamping down on dissidents. Stalin and his apparatus ushered in bureaucratic rule. At each point in this reversal of the revolution, and as the hopes in the revolution were dashed, the rates of suicide went up. Suicide in the Soviet Union therefore was a direct result of the failure to break completely from capitalism, and the inevitable degeneration of "socialism in one country" as the bureaucracy usurped power from the workers. Most important, socialist equality was stillborn as workers control of their labour was taken over by a state bureaucracy. Surplus labour was not allocated to social needs on a democratic basis, but expropriated by the bureaucracy. Alienation re-appeared in the unequal social relations of the bureaucratic regime.
What to do?
We have argued above that alienation is the fundamental cause of suicide. It cannot be overcome unless there is an end to the unequal social relations that produce alienation. The capitalist state is based upon alienation and designed to reproduce it by legitimising unequal class relations. The state bureaucracy uses its power to monopolize knowledge and prevent any challenge to capitalist rule in the name of "good science".  In the post-capitalist states, a state bureaucracy emerged to suppress the power of workers and to block the road to socialism and take the road back to capitalism.
In Aotearoa/NZ, the first task to stopping suicide is to challenge and expose the state agencies and the Mental Health bureaucracy. An official inquiry will do nothing to expose the bureaucracy, plenty of earlier ‘disasters’ such as the police shooting of Steven Wallace and the Pike River tragedy proves.  An independent inquiry is needed to allow critics of the official line on suicide to be heard and their issues raised and debated publicly.
But even so, more urgent actions are needed along the lines of the self-organising of workers and youth, especially Maori youth, to actively fight against the official silence and apathy towards suicide. There are lessons that can be learned from the story of Yellow Ribbon, that created student groups in many schools to deal with those at risk of suicide and its closing down by the state agencies. And many more public initiatives to organise the grass roots communities to campaign against suicide are important developments. Focusing on the immediate causes of suicide will wake people up to the underlying cause of suicide – the alienation of individuals from their labour, from their friends and family, and finally from themselves.
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