Build Opposition to U.S. War!

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

We condemn the act of terrorism directed at thousands of US workers on September 11. It sacrificed the lives of workers and did nothing for the cause of the oppressed in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan or any other oppressed country.

Worse it provides the USA with the excuse that it wants to escalate its attacks on these countries with a blank cheque to fight a 'new war' against 'terrorism'. Such a war helps the USA to avoid the charge that it is the world's No 1 terrorist. More importantly it can combat a collapsing economy as it mobilises its industry in a war drive.

As the US Empire militarises its rule over the masses of poor and oppressed, those who oppose capitalist rule must take a stand now to mobilise the workers of the world to unite and smash imperialism and racism! For an anti-imperialist coalition against racism and war!

Terrorism against workers

The use of civilian planes by terrorists to attack even such prominent targets as the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon cannot advance the cause of the oppressed.

In the first place by killing US workers it makes other workers in the imperialist countries rally around their national flags and volunteer to go to war against their sisters and brothers. While terrorists may do spectacular damage to the symbols of imperialist America, they cannot smash capitalism, because they do not mobilise workers as a class to take power and control of the economy.

Second, terrorism justifies more reactionary state terror against the rights and freedoms of workers and the oppressed at home as well as in those states targeted by imperialism. It further undermines collective class struggle by promoting patriotism and religion both as the cause of conflict and as the solution. The real cause capitalism and real solution socialism become forgotten in the rush to war.

USA NO 1 Terrorist!

The imperialist powers and their agents historically have perpetrated the vast majority of terrorist acts. The use of the Atomic bomb on Japan in 1945; The massacre of millions in Vietnam; The half million who died in Indonesia in 1965 at the hands of Suharto backed by the US; The millions displaced and dead in Palestine since 1948; The half million children dead at the hands of US sanctions in Iraq since 1990. And this is only the US hit list and only the worst. The list goes on and on.

It is the extreme powerlessness of oppressed people that drives some to adopt a terrorist response. The ultimate blame for terrorism therefore must lie with the imperialists. In this sense the September 11 attacks were a logical and predicable response to US policies in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America for decades. The terrorists could just have well come from any of these continents.

What's more these 'terrorists' are often trained and financed by the USA to be used against its enemies. Saddam Hussein was backed by the USA in Iraq's war with Iran. Noriega was the USA’s man in Panama. Osama bin Laden was financed by the USA to fight the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. It would be no surprise to find that some of the pilots in the attack of September 11 were trained in the US Naval Air training school in Annapolis.

USA gears up for war

The attacks on September 11 provide a perfect pretext for US imperialism to escalate its hegemonic role as moral guardian and world policeman. The USA could not have done it better had it supplied the personnel as well as the training for the terrorists.

The USA has been able to mobilise its friends and rival powers in EU and Asia to back its 'new war'. NATO has invoked the clause that treats an attack on the USA as an attack on each of its 17 members. Russia has committed itself to support NATO against terrorism provided the charges are proved. Pakistan has been pressured to demand that bin Laden be handed over. China can hardly oppose the USA and stay in the WTO.

So the declaration of war by George Bush is a blank cheque to attack any 'terrorist' target. It is the perfect end to a ten- year campaign to demonise Islam. Since the end of the cold war in 1990, the USA has promoted Islamic fundamentalism as the new world enemy. It has cast Osama bin Laden in the role of No 1 terrorist. Saddam Hussein and Palestinian groups like Hamas are second and third in line. The USA and its imperialist allies can now use the September 11 attacks to mobilise support for an unlimited war against any power, state, or individual that opposes US domination of the world.

War serves the economy

While the drive to war appears to be a political struggle of the powerful against the powerless, its purpose is to maintain US economic control of scarce resources such as oil in contested areas like the Middle East and Central Asia. Such control becomes more urgent as the world economy goes into a major recession. For the first time since the 1930's the world economy is suffering a global downturn.

The US economy that has kept the rest of the world economy afloat in the last ten years is now in serious recession. The militarisation of the world is necessary to step up the repression of the poor and working class who are fighting back against this worsening depression. This global war on poverty targets the victims of poverty and has its model in the Plan Colombia.

US Plans for Latin America

The USA has for many years militarised its rule over Latin America. Its ruthless policies of supporting military dictatorships and of direct intervention in Cuba 1963, Chile 1973, Nicaragua 1979, Granada 1983, and Panama 1989, have created a joint military machine with its client states.

More recently it has promoted Plan Colombia, a Vietnam- style invasion of US troops and other personnel to fight the FARC under the guise of a war on drugs. There is now Plan Bolivia and looming up a Plan Argentina. In each case the armed resistance of the workers and peasants is labelled 'communism', 'terrorism' or a 'war on drugs' and a ‘counter-terrorist’ Plan devised and promoted to suppress it. The US working class barely notices these counter- revolutionary activities.

Plan Islam

But now the US ruling class is embarking on a drive to war that will take the form of a new religious crusade, a Plan Islam, to justify attacks upon and occupations of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries, and open up new colonies in the Middle East and Central Asia. Already demands have been placed on the Taliban to hand over bin Laden, and also upon Pakistan to collaborate in any action against Afghanistan. The USA will go to war when its preparations are complete.

While the pretext is fighting terrorism in the name of democracy and freedom, the object will be to advance the US domination of the world economy against its weaker imperialist rivals the EU and Japan by eliminating any opposition to this Empire Amerika. These events prove that while war is politics, politics is concentrated economics.

Anti-capitalist movement

The drive to global war will be a baptism of fire for the youthful anti- capitalist movement and the 'left' in general. Vietnamese, Latin Americans, Iraqis, Palestinians Somalis and Yugoslavs have already suffered years of localised warfare.

The Western anti-war movement struggled to oppose these local wars against what was labelled as 'communism' or 'terrorism'. Those who opposed war on both sides, rather than unconditionally defend the oppressed states against imperialism, weakened this movement.

The 'new war' against Islam will overtake all other anti- capitalist movements and force them to take sides for or against imperialism. Those who will not defend Iraq or Afghanistan because of Saddam or the Taliban do not understand that these dictatorships are the product of imperialism.

Not to defend them ensures that their defeat by imperialism makes it more difficult for the workers of Iraq or Afghanistan to overthrow these dictators. It is necessary for the Western left to overcome its pacifism and form itself into a strong anti-imperialist front against imperialist racism and war.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

Opposition to imperialist war can only be built in the working class whose interests are united with the worker and poor peasant masses of the oppressed countries. Anti-war movements that remain trapped in the pacifist and reformist ideology of the imperialist petty bourgeois and labour aristocracy will always support the lesser evil of imperialist democracy over dictatorships in oppressed states.

The first task of working class has always been to stand shoulder to shoulder with all oppressed peoples against imperialism. Against the ruling class forces that line up behind Plan Islam, revolutionaries must be in the front ranks of the troops that confront the class enemy. Greens, anarchists, socialists, and communists who are engaged in a variety of anti-capitalists actions must unite in solidarity against imperialist war and prepare to take on the military machine in their own imperialist heartlands.

No to the US 'new war' against Islam!

NZ out of ANZUS!

NZ out of Echelon!

Defend Afghanistan!

For Palestine Liberation!

End the Sanctions on Iraq!

End racist attacks!

Self Defence is No Offense!

Form Self Defence Groups!

Fight Racism and Imperialism!

For an Anti-imperialist United Front

Class Struggle No 41 October-November 2001


Two members of the SWO recently attacked the CWG position on the Western anti-capitalist movement. They were referring to the article we wrote in Class Struggle # 40 (August-September) titled "From Genoa to Salta" where we criticised the lack of an organised, working class base to the ACM and compared it to the real life and death struggles of workers in Salta. By contrast the SWO approach is to ‘include’ as anti-capitalist anybody who doesn’t like McDonalds food or GE. For them opposition to GE has become the NZ expression of anti-capitalism. After S11 it became clear that it has the same opportunist approach to the US imperialist war. The SWO didn’t want the war identified as a ‘US’ war because that would frighten off pacifists.

What is anti-capitalism?

There is a debate about what this movement actually is and how to build it. We have joined in that debate ‘constructively’ by arguing in our article in Class Struggle #40 that the ACM is based on a wrong tactic – a premature, and therefore adventurist, confrontation with the state forces. It seems however that our criticism of the ACM was taken to be ‘destructive’ by the SWO.

"Like most radicals and revolutionaries, the SWO regards the anti-capitalist movement of both North and South as ‘the biggest challenge to capitalism since the 1960s’ ".

It is true that 100.000’s of young leftists regard themselves as part of the ‘anti-capitalist’ movement. But what is this movement and where it is going? And if it is "the biggest challenge to capitalism since the 1960’s" we think it is too early to say. But in its present form of street marches against world leaders, much bigger challenges to capitalism have taken place in the last 30 years.

The first was the survival of the Soviet Union until 1991. That was a much bigger challenge than the ACM so far. It was such a big challenge that the ‘West’ mounted something called a ‘Cold War’ against it. The reason for this was that the Soviet Union still represented a post-capitalist society that was, despite the rule of the Stalinist dictatorship over the workers, a massive historical leap ahead of capitalism that acted as a beacon for the world’s workers.

But then the SWO would know all about that having been apologists for Stalin in their earlier history as the Communist Party of NZ until they abandoned the SU as ‘imperialist’ to back the Chinese, only to then abandon the Chinese to back the Albanians. When asked in the late 1980’s why the CPNZ regarded Albania as the ‘socialist fatherland’ the CP would reply: "because the workers are armed".

In 1991 when the Albanian Stalinist regime was brought down by a popular uprising, the CPNZ covered its tracks and looked around for a suitable replacement. They found the SWP in Britain, who had the infamous distinction of refusing to defend the SU because they said it was ‘state capitalist’ from 1929.

The SWO is now part of this current that refused to defend the SU only 12 years after the 1917 revolution and 70 years before the final restoration of capitalism. The SWO combines a rotten record of responsibility for the Stalinist betrayals of the world revolution the most critical being in Germany in 1933 when Stalin split the labour movement and allowed Hitler to survive, with its betrayal of the degenerated workers’ states. If you can’t defend a revolution you cannot make one either.

Then there are the massive struggles for independence such as the liberation of the Portuguese Colonies in Africa and the end of dictatorships in Portugal, Greece and parts of Latin America. The most important was the victory of the Vietnamese over the US in 1975. These were struggles that actually involved armed struggles and seizures of power.

Then there were the strikes in the 1970’s and early 1980’s such as the Miners’ strike in Britain in 1984. The problem was that these huge struggles were defeated by the social democrats who introduced austerity policies in the 1970’s, and then the neo-liberal offensive of the 1980’s and 1990’s. On top of this was the victory of imperialism over the degenerated workers states in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and currently, China and Vietnam.

"In stark contrast, the CWG …totally write off the western anti-capitalist movement in an extremely sectarian manner. The CWG's magazine says the western anti-capitalist movement is a "symptom" of all the past "defeats" of workers, and claims it has "no class base".

Let’s look at both of these points. The ACM IS a ‘symptom’ of past defeats of workers. If it were not the case then the ACM would have built itself on top of victorious struggles from the 1970’s to the 1990’s and have successfully defended the degenerate workers states from the restoration of capitalism. Such an ACM would look very different. It would be led by strong communist currents capable of creating the preconditions of workers power – namely an armed and independent working class headed by a revolutionary Bolshevik party. What do we see instead?

The ACM is made up of a loose coalition of unionised workers, petty bourgeois bureaucrats, anarchists and some left bourgeoisie NGO’s and celebrities. That is what we mean by "no class base". The workers in the organisations are mixed up with petty bourgeois and bourgeois. There is no base founded on independent working class organisations. Instead the workers who are involved are either under the domination of union bureaucrats or members of left parties like the SWO that are not organised like the Bolsheviks around democratic centralism but in a loose federation headed by more bureaucrats.

The character of the ACM at the moment unfortunately reflects this lack of a working class base and its dominated by the adventurist tactics of petty bourgeois radicals who have little conception of the nature of capitalism. So the ACM is in fact at this stage very much a ‘symptom’ of the weakness and disorganisation of the left after a period of twenty years of defeats. To pretend that it is anything else is to create false sense of optimism that will only lead to huge disappointment and disillusionment among young people.

"According to the CWG, the western anti-capitalist movement shouldn't be "taking on the bosses' state", making the claim that such direct actions mean the movement "opens itself to state penetration". The CWG patronise and undermine anti-capitalists "sucked into" the massive Genoa mobilisation, saying they must "stop and think". The CWG insist that the western anti-capitalist movement must retreat into "defensive struggles". The CWG declare that only the global South, not the West, contains "real" anti-capitalist movements."

Such a weak movement should be starting from the ground up, rebuilding the base organisations of the class by supporting defensive struggles against all the attempts to de-unionise, casualise, genderise and racialize the labour movement. At this early stage of rebuilding it is madness to indulge in the adventurist tactic of taking on the heavily armed and prepared bosses state when there is no possibility of defeating the armed power of that state. In its lack of organisation and preparedness the ACM does indeed ‘open itself to state penetration’.

This is not to say that workers never take on the state, or run the risk of being penetrated by the enemy, just that if you make it easy for the bosses to attack you, you are no friend of the working class. While students can go home or back to university, the working class will pay for this adventurism when the state introduces more repressive measures to hamper the rebuilding of its base organisations such as unions.

Is it patronising to tell the left to "stop and think"? No, its patronising to tell the world’s workers that all their struggles over the last 40 years were insignificant compared to the youthful New Left of the 1960’s and the equally youthful New New Left of the 2000’s. In fact its more that patronising, its imperialistic because it puts the sporadic backward politics of Western youth who are against ‘globalisation’ ahead of the much more advanced and ongoing struggles of workers and peasants in the colonial and semi-colonial world. So, yes, ‘stop and think’. That’s why we make the direct comparison between today’s New New Left and that of yesterday that at its best developed into a militant anti-Vietnam war movement.

Only those who think that the ACM is an ‘offensive struggle’ can see ‘defensive struggles’ as a retreat. It is delusional to claim that a few street battles between 1000’s of youth and 1000’s of cops in Western cities are offensive struggles. Such terms have a scientific meaning for Marxists. They relate to the balance of class forces. In a period of upsurge of worker militancy offensive struggles are possible.

But the ACM is not such an upsurge. It may be the beginning of one if it develops strong links to emergent labour organisations. But before it can become one workers have to win the battle on the factory front. It is the strength of labour in controlling production by means of strong unions and victorious strikes that are the indicators of an offensive not street battles away from the site of production. Such battles can never be decisive while the bosses control production.

It is the degree to which the battles in the semi-colonial world are over control of production that allows us to say that they are ‘real’. When thousands of Korean car workers go on strike and occupy a plant that is a ‘real’ struggle for workers control of production. When thousands of youth hire a train to go to Genoa to march up against barricades and unavoidably confront the police that is not a ‘real’ battle for class power since it avoids challenging the bosses’ control of industry.

This is not to say that the ACM cannot turn into such a ‘real’ battle if it reorients towards the working class base. That is the point of our criticism and for that reason it is the opposite of being sectarian.

"And those activists in the western anti-capitalist movement who don't belong to unions are ardent opponents of the dictatorship of corporate elites and their state backers. In other words, they strongly identify with the liberation struggles of grassroots people. Many are so committed that they're prepared to put their own bodies on the line in confrontations with the police."

This is hype to keep the barricade euphoria going between summits. What is an activist unless someone rooted in the working class and militantly fighting to defend jobs, living standards, and basic rights? Any other sort of activist is a classless person without any weight in the class struggle at best, or at worst a provacateur who weakens the labour movement.

What does ‘identifying with grass roots people’ mean? Any common liberal can do this. Is this a qualification for being in the ACM? Putting your body on the line in confrontation with police can mean anything from courage to stupidity, and in any case it is counter-productive unless it is part of a deliberate and organised offensive such as the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917.

"… the Bolsheviks' retreat from confrontation with the capitalist state in July 1917 was a special case dictated by the very closeness of victorious revolution. Yet the CWG generalise the July 1917 special case to today's western anti-capitalist movement, which is (sadly) still far from overthrowing capitalism. This sectarian interpretation of the Bolshevik legacy shows that the CWG know little of the dynamics of class struggle."

Grant Morgan just doesn't understand the point of the reference in our article to the ‘July Days’ of 1917. The situation in Russia before 1917 was very different to that in which the ACM operates now yet quite similar to that in the semi-colonial world today. That is, workers were engaged in desperate defensive struggles during a reactionary period.

Of course Lenin supported all defensive struggles of workers and peasants against the Tsar and the bosses - just as we support the Korean workers, the Salta picqueteros, and PNG students etc today. In a revolutionary situation as in Russia in July 1917, the Bosheviks tried to stop the workers from prematurely going on the ‘offensive’ against the state.

So today, in Korea, Salta, PNG, Russia etc we are for workers arming themselves, and for campaigning for a general strike to turn defensive struggles into offensive struggles. But we are not for offensive mass mobilisations of workers against the state BEFORE they have already created a power base in their own independent institutions.

We most certainly don’t abandon this caution in situations today that bear no resemblance to the spontaneous defensive struggles of peasants and workers in the period up to 1917, where instead street demonstrations detached from the working class base substitute themselves for actual class struggle. If we would not advocate offensive attacks on the state in a revolutionary situation that is still unripe, we most certainly don’t advocate such attacks by raw and disorganised street marchers in what is still not yet a pre-revolutionary situation. That, Mr Morgan, is the point.

"The CWG suggest that the only anti-capitalist movements worthy of the name are to be found in armed insurrections in the global South. This is a sectarian glorification of the gun regardless of the actual conditions existing within each country and region."

Sectarian 'glorifcation of the gun'

This statement is stupid. The "global South" is a totally un-Maxist concept which obliterates the "actual conditions existing within each country and region". On the contrary we carefully consider the character of countries, their class structure and their political development. We are against guerrillaism as a tactic either in the countryside or in cities. But we defend guerrillas against the bosses. We are opposed to armed adventurism with sticks and placards or AK 47’s. But we give unconditional support to armed struggles against oppression such as Palestine, and we certainly critically support the arming of workers and peasant movements in defensive struggles against state forces such as that in Salta. But more importantly, we called for the redirection of the ACM into a movement against imperialist wars already being fought in the former Balkans and in Latin America. Such anti-war movements would be very worthy of the name ACM.

"Real-life activists in both South and North say it's critically important to build anti-capitalist movements in all countries, including the West. They all say that every movement strengthens all the others. The Zapatistas in Mexico, the unemployed road-blockaders in Argentina, the anti-IMF students in Papua New Guinea, both inspire and are inspired by the western anti-capitalist movement. When the CWG try to set the movement in the South against that of the North, they act as splitters, regardless of their motivation."

This is more SWO hype to build the barricade euphoria at the expense of the facts. Why doesn’t Morgan talk about workers? He talks about activists, movements etc as if the label ‘anti-capitalist’ confers working class ‘real life’ status on everyone. Let us inform him that the picqueteros of Salta do not look for inspiration to the ACM in the ‘north’ but to the Palestinians! The workers of South Africa are having general strikes. What motivates them is not the ACM but the oppressive conditions they face. They too have taken the Palestinian cause as their inspiration, a point reinforced by the walkout of the US and Israel from the UN conference against Racism in Durban.

If the ACM has delusions of grandeur it is because they are fuelled by groups like the SWO and people like Morgan whose politics are nothing more than the current version of leftwing imperialism. They fool themselves that they are taking on the ‘heart of the beast’ i.e. imperialism. But to take on the heart of the beast means bringing imperialism to a halt by taking control of production and disarming the imperialist war machine. The ACM’s potential to turn into an anti-war movement at home to defend Palestine, Argentina, PNG, Russia, East Timor Macedonia etc against imperialism will only develop if the current delusions about the ACM such as the SWO promote are smashed.

"Possibly the CWG's most insane claim is that the western anti-capitalist movement is just a "symptom" of past working class "defeats". This claim is so sick that it will, I believe, haunt the CWG for the remainder of its existence. All the evidence, of which there is plenty, points in the opposite direction to the CWG's pessimism. The western anti-capitalist movement is part of an explosion of grassroots anger on a global scale. There's a generalisation from the "single issue" campaigns that, in the past period of demoralisation, were the highest possible form of struggle. Now people are linking "single issues" with a fight against the whole capitalist system. Such political generalisation is an expression of growing optimism, unity and organisation at the grassroots. Certainly, the ruling elites consider the western anti-capitalist movement to be a very real threat to their class interests. That's why the next World Trade Organisation summit is being held in the isolated dictatorship of Qatar, and the next G8 big powers' summit in the remote Canadian rockies, as far away from mass protests as they can get. Many among the ruling elites themselves admit they're losing the battle for legitimacy in the wake of huge anti-capitalist mobilisations in the West. The rulers of the world have been pushed onto the defensive for the first time in decades."

To proclaim that we are living in a period of offensive struggles based on street demonstrations that have forced world leaders to retreat to the desert or the mountains is ridiculous. The phrase ‘losing the battle for legitimacy’ fools no one. The legitimacy of capitalist rule is not challenged by intermittent street protests but by general strikes. To turn these disorganised street battles into proof that the bosses are on the run is plain stupid.

If the rulers of the world are on the defensive, why are they crowing about China joining the WTO? Why are they backing the US push for the FTAA and the dollarisation of Latin America? If they are on the run why do the Israelis bomb a few more Hamas leaders and threaten to kill Arafat? Why get ready to buy up Japan and why launch a new star wars program?

In a bureaucratic organisation like the IST such illusions become insulated from challenge. The SWO’s own former sister organisation in the USA the ISO has been kicked out of the IST for being ‘sectarian’ because it expressed perfectly reasonable doubts that the ACM represented a new period of offensive upsurge.

‘Yet, claim the CWG, the western anti-capitalist movement is a failure, and to get anywhere it must follow the CWG's prescription of retreat into "defensive struggles". In other words, the CWG want the movement to retreat back to the past era of despair and demoralisation, when only "defensive struggles" were possible, and give up the confident and generalised attack on the whole system of global capitalism. The CWG are so far off the ball, they're playing another game altogether.’

Its not case of what we want. If we could have what we ‘want’ we would be living under socialism. It is a case of what is real and what is necessary right now. We do not claim that the ACM is a failure. We say that it needs to ‘grow up’. There is a difference. As with small children you help them grow up. You don’t condemn them for not being adults.

Where the children are being badly misled by disoriented and authoritarian adults however, we reserve the right to tell them they are wrong. It is wrong to mislead Western youth into thinking they are the new vanguard because they are against the capitalist ‘system’ as if the worker and peasant struggles in the semi-colonial world are not already in the vanguard. To acknowledge defeat is not to be demoralised it is to confront the causes so they can be overcome. On the contrary to fear defeat and refuse to acknowledge it means you cannot distinguish between victory and defeat and avoid the road to more defeats.

We know what game show the SWO is on. Its called ‘Opportunism Knocks’. It is hosted by the British SWP and fronted by Alex Callinicos who decided that after Seattle the world has entered a new period of history. Recently Callinicos argued that the ACM represents a new period because a significant minority now see the ‘capitalist system’ as the cause of all the world’s problems. (See our review of his "ACM and Revolutionary socialism" in the next issue of CS).

But this is self-evidently not the case otherwise the ACM would be attacking the heart and not the head of capitalism. It would be organising the working class to take over production rather than attacking the bosses for doing what all bosses do, exploit workers. A new period will only arise when the working class makes a transition from defensive struggles over jobs, wages and rights to offensive struggles for control over production and for state power.

SWO on Imperialist War?

To prove our point that we are in a period of democratic counter-revolution where workers’ struggles are still defensive rather than offensive, the new US ruling class’s war drive to smash terrorism finds the SWO disoriented. This war proves that the US ruling class and its allies can mobilise nationalism and racism to dragoon the large majority of Western workers behind the drive for war. Many of those who are against the ‘capitalist system’ find that they are against ‘terrorism’ more.

It is an open admission that this is the case in the US and Europe that the IST has opted for an opportunist approach to build broad cross class opposition to the war. Everywhere anti-war groups are being set up the IST opposes anti-imperialist fronts or even fronts that specify that it is a US war drive that has to be opposed. Yet in their own propaganda they talk about imperialist war and raise the slogan STOP AMERICA’s WAR

What’s going on here? On the one hand the IST calls for a popular front with pacifists. On the other its own line is to stop ‘America’s’ war. In reality there is no difference. ‘America’s war’ does not mean the war promoted by the US ruling class, but the war promoted by Bush and his right wing clique. It is a slogan that fits with the Greens, Chomsky, and the democratic left in general, which is that the ‘war’ is not a symptom of US imperialism, but a symptom of an evil aberration in US capitalism which can be corrected by mobilising a radical democratic majority to convict the military industrial elite of war crimes.

In other words the IST has completely exposed its opportunist anti-capitalist position by its stand on the US imperialist war plans.

While it was obvious to us that the ISTs anti-capitalism did not seriously challenge the radical democratic program to reform capitalism, their advocacy of the Stop the War position means that they are prepared to allow the pacifists to lead the anti-war movement.

As self-professed ‘trotskyists’ they should know that popular fronts are death traps for workers because they prevent them from taking an independent class line on imperialist war. A cross-class anti-war movement will remain dominated by petty bourgeois pacifists who role is to divert worker mobilisation for direct industrial action against the ruling class and it military machine back towards parliamentary solutions.

There is only one way to fight an imperialist war and that is on an anti-imperialist platform that mobilises the working class to confront the class enemy at home. Anti-imperialists are not in favour of Stopping the War. The war will stop if the victims of imperialism are defeated. To prevent that we have to wage war against imperialism. That is why we say that program of revolutionaries is to turn imperialist war into civil war!

Down with vacillators and opportunists!

Down with petty bourgeois pacifists!

Victory to workers in the class war!

Class Struggle No 41 October-November 2001


Our position on GE is like that on Nuclear power. It is not safe under capitalism! We do not trust the bosses to do anything that affects workers lives because they are motivated solely by profit. We do not trust our health and safety on the job to the bosses, so why should we trust them or their state to regulate GE? This does not mean that we think that GE is necessarily bad. Under a socialist state where informed workers can democratically regulate GE many social benefits are possible. But we need socialism before we need GE! We reprint below a short excerpt from an article by Chris Wheeler responding to the Royal Commission’s Report based upon his experience of 20 years of monitoring the failure of Government environmental ‘controls.’

"…The Commission's report in favour of GE has now become an effective tool for beating the GE opposition and the Green Party in Parliament around the head - probably the only reason for this whole $NZ6.5 million taxpayer-funded farce in the first place! As PM Helen Clark, her parliamentary colleagues and the GE industry are now saying all across the NZ media: "You got what you asked for - a complete and comprehensive review of GE policy and science. The expert view resulting from the Royal Commission's deliberations is that GE is an essential part of New Zealand's economic survival and a leading aspect of our new 'Knowledge Economy' and must be allowed to go ahead with the minimum of restrictions. Now shut-up. Stop complaining, and accept the majority opinion."

Of course there are some derisory "controls" being recommended in the Royal Commission report, but in my past 20 years of direct involvement in agriculture issues and membership of official bodies deliberating on environmental control strategies in New Zealand, I have yet to see effective legislation or regulation controlling ANY aspect of the agrichemical abuse that New Zealand is notorious for in informed world environmental circles and GE abuse will fare little better. The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) cited in the Commission's report as the responsible agency overseeing GE trials and releases has been controlled from the first day of its establishment several years ago by powerful industry lobby groups with the necessary financial resources to fight any environmental group's submissions to a standstill.

For 20 years I have been involved in various attempts to place effective controls over the profligate application of carcinogenic pesticides by New Zealand farmers, which contributes to New Zealand's record levels of breast, prostate and bowel cancer, childhood leukemia and birth defects, and have met with continual official apathy and obstruction, particularly from official regulatory agencies. I and the knowledgeable anti-GE community in New Zealand have absolutely no faith in the new GE review apparatus being suggested by the Commission because we know that just as with appointments to the food regulatory Australia New Zealand Food

Authority (ANZFA) and ERMA, membership will be heavily weighted with GE industry stooges and political appointees guaranteed to preserve the status quo…"

GE run by the bosses? No Way!

Class Struggle No 40, August-September 2001


We follow up our report last issue of the NZ/Hong Kong trade and investment deal with a statement of our position on capitalist restoration in China. We recognise that when the 14th Party Congress voted to introduce ‘market socialism’ in 1992 this put the revival of the market and the profit motive on th3e agenda. However the intention to restore capitalism is not the same as doing so. In fact it has taken another ten years to overcome the plan and re-introduce the law of value as the determining influence on the economy. Today we can say that joining the WTO has completed the process of restoration to the point where the market now dominates the plan. The class nature of the Chinese state is now capitalist.

When in 1991 the Soviet Union succumbed to 75 years of bourgeois encirclement and bureaucratic mismanagement, the attempt by the Yananev ‘hardline’ coup plotters to kidnap Gorbachev gave Boris Yeltsin the pretext he needed to seize power and fast-forward the ‘shock treatment’ restoration process. Both Yeltsin and Yananev were restorationists, but Yananev and Co wanted to avoid the breakup of the SU and keep the Communist Party in power overseeing a ‘slow track’ transition to capitalism so their clique could become the new bourgeoisie.

The defeat of their botched plot allowed Yeltsin to eliminate his rivals, begin the breakup of the SU and ban the CP. Within a year Yeltsin had implemented World Bank plans to demolish the workers’ plan, privatise key sectors of the economy and to open up Russia to foreign investment and trade. Between the seizure of power and the restoration of capitalism less than a year had elapsed.

In China that same year, 1992, the 14th Party Congress took the decisive turn towards ‘market socialism’. In China there was no major section of the bureaucracy pushing for a fast track restoration. The plan would be phased out over the next decade as the economy was progressively freed up to capital investment.

By taking the ‘slow track’ to restoration the ruling party hoped that it could convert itself into the new national bourgeoisie without a Soviet-type social upheaval. But while the intention to restore capitalism clearly indicated that the bureaucracy was committed to restoring capitalism, it was insufficient to constitute a transformation in the class character of the state. The bureaucracy could not ‘will’ the market into existence overnight. It took another ten years before the bureaucracy could replace the plan with the market.

The point where a new class comes to power is easier to determine when a decisive revolutionary overturn occurs as in October 1917 in Russia, 1945 in Eastern Europe, or 1949 in China. Each of these overturns saw a new class take power by force of arms. In each case the armed workers or the Red Army took state power. If the bourgeoisie was allowed to continue production for profit this was to accumulate capital for use in the transition to a socialist state.

In each case, the new workers state operated a form of ‘state capitalism’. But as Lenin explained, this was ‘capitalism’ dominated by a ‘workers state’. That is, the market was subordinated to the plan. Only when the bourgeoisie refused to cooperate or began to threaten counter-revolution, was ‘capitalist’ property eliminated. However, in Yugoslavia, as the capitalist world allowed a form of private ownership to persist indefinitely, elements of capitalist production for profit remained part of the workers’ state.

Just as a workers’ revolution can coexist with some ‘capitalist’ social relations such as the New Economic Policy in the SU in the 1920s, the route back to capitalist restoration will usually begin with ‘market reforms’ as the bureaucracy attempts to stimulate the planned economy and defend their privileges.

. What is fundamental is the essence of property relations as either production for profit or production for use. The class nature of the state is determined by the social relations it reproduces. Therefore the change in class rule is given by the state’s actual reproduction of social relations of production for profit or for use.

In a DWS the turnover from a degenerate workers’ state into a restored capitalist state involves the transformation of the bureaucracy from a parasitic caste into a new class. As a caste the bureaucracy has usurped workers power and rules the state in order to preserve workers property as long as it can derive privileges from it.

But once the plan ceases to generate privileges the bureaucracy is forced to convert itself into a bourgeoisie. But if cannot do this by wishful thinking. It does not become a new bourgeoisie until it has destroyed the dominance of the plan and substituted the law of value. Thus the conversion of the bureaucracy into a bourgeois class comes only when it has been successful in restoring the dominance of the market.

In China, therefore, the change in the class nature of the state could only occur at the point where the state successfully introduced the law of value to re-value planned production in terms of market value. It took the Chinese bureaucracy a decade from 1992 to act on its intention to overturn planned production for use and restore capitalist production for profit.

. The decisive point of the turnover is the penetration of the law of value to the extent that ‘value’ is no longer determined by ‘use-value’ but by international ‘exchange-value’. In our view this became the reality when China joined the WTO agreeing to abide by its rules of free trade and investment.

For a Socialist Revolution in China!
Defend China against Imperialism!

Class Struggle No 40 August-September 2001


The reports that have flooded in from Genoa demonstrate what we have said since Seattle. There is no class base or organisation to this form of protest. Genoa proved this when 250,000 mainly workers were upstaged by battles between a few hundred anarchists and the cops causing the death of Carlo Giuliani. The revolutionary socialists that allowed themselves to be sucked into this protest need to stop and think. What we need is a strategic redirection of revolutionary youth in support the real anti-capitalist struggles developing all around the world such as those in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Korea, South Africa and Argentina.

The problem with the ACM is that it is an expression of the weakness of the working class in the current period. In the last 20 years the workers’ movement has suffered major setbacks. Not only have the unions and the social democratic parties in the imperialist world been typically replaced by Blairite liberal parties and non-unionised, casualised workplaces, but the defeat of the USSR and EE DWS’s has brought about a world-historic defeat for workers everywhere.

The ACM is a symptom of these defeats. It is based on a non-class mainly youth ‘movementism’ with few organic connections to the surviving labour movement. Instead of rebuilding the labour movement to take power in the workplace, the ACM movement aims for the highly protected and armed state machine whose very purpose is to repel attacks on bourgeois class rule. Instead of real class politics, the ACM indulges in staging televised street battles that are not strategically or tactically capable of building a working class seizure of power. Quite the opposite.

Events at Genoa show that the bourgeois state is prepared to use force to protect the interests of the ruling class. Therefore taking on the bosses’ states is not a smart tactic. Attacking its armed head is not the way to destroy the beast. Rather it is an invitation to the bosses to destroy the most advanced layers of young workers in isolation of the masses of workers. The ACM opens itself to state penetration and exposes new layers of young communists to the repressive forces isolated from the massed working class. Genoa showed that 100,000s of well-organised protestors could be disorganised and exposed to police attacks by the action of a few hard-core anarchists. Those links between anti-capitalist youth and the unions in the imperialist countries, and with the anti-capitalist struggles in the semi-colonial world are undermined by this lack of discipline.

The youth vanguard of the new new left needs a strong dose of Bolshevism. The Bolsheviks did not call for suicidal attacks on the state machine. Even when workers spontaneously rebelled during the July days in 1917, the Bolsheviks knew that they were not yet strong enough to take power and called on workers to pull back. Only when they had prepared the ground by creating ‘dual power’ where the workers had their own mass forces and militia, did they embark on an open attack on the state.

Such ‘dual power’ meant that workers had established control of industry, had formed workers’ militia and had won over crucial sections of the army. This meant that the working class had the capacity to challenge the ruling class state power and by defeating that power create a workers’ state.

Such a necessary development is lacking in the imperialist countries but it is emerging rapidly in the semi-colonial world where basic defensive struggles for jobs, welfare, workers rights and living standards come up against not only imperialist financial domination but also military repression. Such is the situation in South Korea, in Russia, in Papua New Guinea and in Argentina right now.

These struggles are not based upon adventurist attacks on the state. Rather they are actions that arise from demands for fundamental rights and conditions destroyed by imperialist super-exploitation. When imperialism forces the semi-colonial states in Korea, Russia and Argentina to cut jobs, wages and welfare, workers protests bring state repression. In each case workers strikes are met with state violence. In Korea and Russia police violence has driven the union leaders underground or face arrest. In Papua New Guinea when the police shot three students protesting at IMF austerity measures, elements of the armed forces joined the protest. In Salta, Argentina when police attempted to break up street barricades they were met with armed defence.

In all of these situations the necessary defensive struggles of organised workers and students leads to them taking steps to arm themselves against the state forces. The logic of these actions is the general strike and the formation of workers militia. In this event imperialism will launch military attacks and back the local state forces in suppressing workers uprisings. In Argentina, the fear that the insurrection in Salta will spread has led the President de La Rua to call for US military exercises in the region. Already in Colombia and Bolivia, US troops and intelligence forces are active in suppressing popular peasant insurrections. These military operations are crudely disguised as anti-narcotic ‘plans’ such as in Colombia or ‘peacekeeping exercises’ in Argentina. However they are dressed up they can only take place because the anti-capitalist movement in the imperialist countries is too weak to prevent them!

That is why the ACM in the North needs to become united with the ACM in the South in actual struggle. It is not sufficient to demand that debts be forgiven when already the imperialist military are deployed to enforce debt repayment!

It is not sufficient to demand respect for human rights when already the imperialists have broken up and ‘recolonised’ most of Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union, and terrorised the populations of Iraq and Palestine! The so-called ‘peaceful’ settlements in Palestine, South Africa and Ireland have all broken down because in the semi-colonial world, imperialism cannot continue to make super-profits and meet even the most fundamental democratic rights at the same time. The ACM in the North needs to grow up quickly and learn some basic lessons from the 1970’s when the anti-war movement physically tried to stop the US military from fighting in Vietnam.

The ACM will come of age when it succeeds in uniting workers, unemployed and poor peasants in an armed struggle to repel imperialism both in the semi-colonies and in the heartlands. To do so it has to refrain from adventurist attacks on the state and rebuild defensive struggles around the heart of capitalist production. That is the first step in creating workers power. Only when workers control industry, have built self-defence organisations and can win over rank and file conscripts in the armed forces, will they be the position to make the final assault on the head of the beast.

Class Struggle No 40, August-September 2001


What do the following state actions have in common?
  • The Commissioner for children calls for an inquiry into child prostitution.
  • Govt sets up the Police Complaints Authority to investigate complaints against the police.
  • Govt passes a Bill of Rights to protect the rights of people.
  • Govt funds organisations that go into schools to warn our young people about the dangers of drugs.
  • Govt passes a law to prosecute people who have sex with children overseas.
  • All of the above are examples of the state legislating for morality to supposedly ban or overcome the causes of antisocial behaviour and establish and defend social or political rights – otherwise known as ‘political correctness’.

    The reality is that such acts of state moralism are more often than not hollow and meaningless and do nothing to change and improve our lives and conditions. In fact, they are often worse than doing nothing at all since they give us the impression that we have achieved something and that our lives will somehow be enriched by these acts. Meanwhile they provide are a cover for the immorality of capitalist society.

    Of course, we do not oppose official state actions in defence of individual and social rights as the far right Libertarianz do. They think that these rights automatically occur in the marketplace, and do not need to be defended by any political action.

    We on the other hand know that the state supports a system that oppresses workers and suppresses their rights so that they can be exploited. So we have no illusions that the state can be part of the solution when it is part of the problem.

    We think that such rights can only be defended by the working class because it has an interest in defending these rights to enable it to overthrow the root cause of oppression, capitalist society.

    Let’s take a tour through the above examples of official political correctness and demythologise them.

    1. Child Prostitution

    Due to the media highlighting of a couple of incidents recently the commissioner for children, Roger McClay, has called for an investigation into the rise of child prostitution. The desired outcome will be taking measures to combat the rise in child prostitution.

    What rank hypocrisy! Roger McClay was a member of a National Government that slashed benefits, introduced the Employment Contracts Act and introduced market rents for State Housing tenants. Those are just three examples of the sorts of right wing policies that McClay and his mates introduced in the 90s that had a devastating impact on the lives of working people. Poverty increased, people couldn’t afford to pay their rent, and making ends meet has continued to be a daily struggle for thousands of New Zealanders.

    The impact has inevitably filtered through to the young of this country, whose employment futures continue to be bleak. If child prostitution is on the increase then the inquiry McClay wants should point the finger right back at the perpetrators of poverty which leads to young people selling themselves for sex. The politicians like McClay and their Big business friends who wanted to have tax cuts and legislation that enabled them to better exploit their workers. That’s where the blame lies.

    Of course, that’s not going to happen, such an inquiry will probably recommend more funding for the police and other symbolic actions designed to make us feel like that something is being done. The reality is nothing will change, at least for the better. As the gap between rich and poor grows, child prostitution will continue to grow.

    2. Police Complaints Authority

    The Labour Government of 1984-90 introduced The Police Complaints Authority to oversee complaints against the Police. The idea was that the Authority would be independent and would be able to investigate complaints against the police in an impartial way. One of the incidents that gave rise to this was the battening of the "Clowns" during the Springbok Tour of 1981. In the end the "Clowns" had to resort to civil action to get any sort of justice.

    Yet, the Police Complaints Authority has been an utter failure on just about every front! Complaints are mainly investigated by other policeman, sometimes not even removed from the complaint. One notable case involved a policeman investigating a complaint about a search on which he was present. Currently the PCA has not yet reported on the Police Inquiry which cleared the killer of Steven Wallace more than a year after his death (see separate story).

    The findings of the Authority are almost always in favour of the police and when they aren’t the penalties dished out to errant policemen and women are little more than a slap over the wrist with a wet bus ticket. Anti-crime Minister Phil Goff recently revamped the PCA to replace police investigators with retired police investigators as if this will make it more ‘independent’ of the Police.

    Many lawyers now tell their clients not to bother pursuing a complaint to the authority. There have even been cases where people have again had to resort to legal action to get a decent resolution. The irony of this is that it is exactly what the PCA was supposed to put an end to.

    3. The Bill of Rights

    The Bill of Rights was passed by The Labour Government of 1984-90. It was intended to enshrine the basic rights of people from political interference.

    Yet, since 1984 more and more rights have been lost by people in this country despite the Bill of Rights. The Bill of rights has become a hollow meaningless bit of paper. Because it is not entrenched (needing a two third majority of Parliament to overturn it) other legislation can easy override it. Paul Swain is busy introducing some of the most draconian spying legislation that will give wide sweeping powers to the Police and Intelligence agencies to not only spy on data transfer but actually enter into people’s computers and retrieve information.

    For the police it is business is usual. "What’s the Bill of Rights?" as far as they are concerned, it has made little or no difference to how they behave. They continue to trample on the rights of working people everyday.

    An example of this is picketing where the right won by workers to picket against scabs taking their jobs is now outlawed by the ERA. This demonstrate that the state is interested in defending citizen rights only it they don’t interfere with the bosses’ right to make profits.

    True, there have been a few victories attributed to the Bill of Rights, such as overturning some police practices or bureaucratic blunders, but they are few and far between, and occur more by accident than design.

    The flip side of these victories is that they result in a reactionary cry from people like Greg O’Connor of the Police Association that we need to change the law to give more power to policemen! More power to the forces of state oppression, just what working people need!

    Frighteningly, these suggestions fall on receptive ears in the Government such as the great right wing populist, Phil Goff, the supposed minister of Justice. The Bill of Rights can be overruled by any legislation to restrict rights.

    A case of the above contempt for The Bill of Rights was the reaction to the Court of Appeal ruling that Internal Affairs had breached the Bill or Rights in ruling certain publications as indecent that dealt with the subject of paedophilia in a sympathetic way.

    You couldn’t move for people clambering over each other to say what a travesty this was, including the media who went along for the ride. The fact was that people didn’t bother to read the court’s decision or ask what it was that had been ruled as not indecent. It wasn’t even child pornography. But why let the facts get in the way of truth.

    4 Drug Education

    The Government funds organisations like FADE to go into schools to warn children about the dangers of drugs promoting these programmes as if they will make a difference.

    Who are they kidding! More and more young people are experimenting with drugs at younger and younger ages. Such drug education is not only a waste of time and money it is misleading. Studies done in the United States show that drug use is continuing to rise amongst young people despite these types of programmes, which are well established there.

    The money could be spent, giving young people a better understanding of ALL drugs and encouraging them to use them more carefully, for example not mixing certain types of drugs because of the effect. But to do this we would have to own up to reality that our young people are taking drugs because they are alienated from the dull routine of capitalist life and that most drugs are pushed to make profits. So the state has to continue to pretend that the problem is one of ‘youth’ and only a certain class of drugs and that it can "win the war on drugs."

    For example while this anti-drug hysteria is going on, the major legal drug has never had it so good as far as the law goes. Young people are exposed to Television advertising, lower drinking ages and alcohol in supermarkets. No wonder the Business Round Table called for the drinking age to be lowered to 16! It is also NOT an offence to give your children alcohol, regardless of what age they are.

    5. Child sex tourism

    Like many countries, NZ has passed a law that people can be prosecuted for having sex with children in other countries. This law is designed to curb the so-called "sex tourist" from going to countries like Thailand and having sex with children.

    Yet so far not one person has been prosecuted under this law! The reality is that even where prosecutions have occurred in other countries, they have been few and far between. The task of presenting evidence and getting witnesses to such a trial are fraught with difficulties which would be evident to anyone with half a brain.

    This sort of legislation is typical of the sort of hypocritical "feel-good" legislation popular these days. Such legislation changes nothing and achieves little for young people in countries such as Thailand. In these countries the authorities themselves often turn a blind eye to child prostitution or accept bribes in exchange for doing nothing.

    More importantly, nothing will change in countries such as Thailand where poverty and child exploitation go hand and hand. If we were serious about dealing with child exploitation we would look at the root cause, the capitalist system and do something about that. But that would mean real changes and not meaningless gestures would have to happen.

    A good start would be to help fund young people’s organisations that aim to unionise youth and fight oppression on every front. Such organisations do exist, but suffer from a lack of support and recognition by the media. In Pakistan young people have started to organise against bonded labour. Last year a 12-year boy who was a leader in the movement and himself a victim of bonded labour was murdered. His assassin has yet to be caught by a police force unwilling to pursue the case.

    The case was never carried by the media. It has only ever been highlighted by Amnesty International. Perhaps a 12-year-old victim of bonded labour isn’t as newsworthy or juicy as a child prostitute story. And yet, this young person was trying to do something to change the system that gives rise to such inequalities.

    It is the duty of working people everywhere to reject short term, opportunistic approaches to the problems legislated by the state and look at the broader picture.

    Exploitation and the disillusionment of young people are a direct result of the capitalist system. Until we deal with that there can be no real progress at dealing with the problems that we face. We must challenge the hypocrisy of politically correct moralism wherever we see it and use it as an opportunity to put forward a programme that will bring real, not imaginary change.

    For Our morals not theirs!

    From Class Struggle No 39 June-July 2001


    Last year the memoirs of a retired French General about the use of torture during the Algerian war of independence 1955-1962 again lifted the scab on French colonisalism. Torture was officially documented by a Commission in 1957, described in Franz Fanon’s ‘Wretched of the Earth’ in 1961 and shown in Pontecorvo’s film ‘Battle of Algiers’ in 1966. Why all the fuss? Well, for the first time a French President has owned up to the atrocities and officially condemned them so that imperialism stands exposed as the cause of ‘terrorism’.

    Recently Le Monde carried a story of a controversy that had broken out in France with the publication of the memoirs of a retired General who had fought against the FLN during the Algerian war of independence in the 1950s. In the book, Services Speciaux, Algerie 1955-1957, General Paul Ausaresses makes no apology for his "clinically detailed" accounts of the many "terrorists" he tortured and murdered. Such practices were authorised by ‘special powers’ passed by the French parliament in 1956. They have been suppressed or explained away in French schools as the response to "terrorism". They have been justified politically as ‘excesses’ which did not negate the positive achievements of French colonialism. Prime Minister Lionel Jospin as recently as December 2000, said that these atrocities were the acts of "deviations involving a minority". (Le Monde Diplomatique, April 2001)

    While these confessions have raked over old scabs for many French people today, the use of torture was well documented during the war, by a Commission for the Protection of Individual Rights and Liberties in 1957, and by Franz Fanon a West Indian psychiatrist who observed the effects of torture and wrote condemning the practice while at the same time calling for an Algerian revolution of national liberation. Fanon is famously accused of advocating the use of violence against the colonial powers. Fanon recognised that the French would never hand over real power unless defeated. Fanon’s books Black Skin, White Masks, Wretched of the Earth, a Dying Colonisalism and Toward the African Revolution have become classics of national revolution. Fanon died at the age of 36 in 1961 the year before Algerian independence.

    Torture was also featured in the film The Battle of Algiers made by Gillo Pontecorvo in the 1966. The film re-enacts the heroic urban insurrection in Algiers in 1957. The film portrays the liberation struggle from the colonised standpoint and counters the usual imperialist propaganda that colonials are backward, ignorant terrorists. It shows that the use of terror by the rebels was in response to the official terrorism of the French. The French used torture to extract information from suspects about the FLN leadership. Despite its mass following, the leadership was tracked down and ruthlessly eliminated by the military. The film demonstrates that unlike Vietnam where the French forces were defeated by a guerrilla army at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, in Algiers in the following years, the urban guerrillas were separated from some 30,000 guerrillas in the countryside by massive floodlit barbed wire fences, isolated and defeated.

    France agreed to a Provisional Government in Algeria in 1958 and Muslim Algerians were granted full French citizenship. In 1959 De Gaulle accepted the right of Algeria to independence. The white settlers formed a terrorist force (the Secret Army Organisation or OAS) to oppose independence. They were defeated and on July 1 1962 a referendum on independence was won 6,000,000 votes for to only 16,000 against. The price of independence was more than 250,000 Muslim dead and over 10,000 French dead.

    The price of colonisation is still being paid. Algeria has been riven by civil war and over 100,000 have been killed since 1992. As Fanon warmed the nationalist leaders are only interested in getting rich from independence. The so-called ‘socialist’ regime of the FLN became the basis for a rich ruling class exploiting a growing impoverished mass that became ripe for recruitments to Islamic fundamentalism. The army opposes the Islamic militants but both still employ the terrorist methods of the war of independence.

    What the scandal over torture in the 1950s shows clearly is that it is imperialism that must be held responsible for terrorism and violence. It is a lie to claim that today’s terrorism is the product of a backward Islamic state that must be guided by the West through a process of ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ towards standards of democracy and human rights that are the achievements of Western civilisation.

    No! The truth is that Imperialism is the cause of systemic violence. Justice will not come until there is a Socialist Republic of Algeria, in a Federation of African Socialist Republics!

    From Class Struggle No 39 June-July 2001


    Mass protests against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in Quebec in April continued the upsurge of the anti-globalisation coalition around the world. The target this time was the re-colonisation or ‘dollarisation’ of Latin America. We assess the prospects for turning this rising populist protest into a revolutionary movement.

    Seattle, Washington, Davos, Prague, Melbourne, Nice, Quebec - and the list goes on to Barcelona, Genoa and beyond. These are the locations of past or future anti-capitalist protests of meetings of the world’s rich organisations and clubs such as the WTO, IMF, and World Economic Forum. At every protest a coalition of left groups, greens, anarchists, populists, and NGO’s have joined forces with some elements of the unions to physically confront and attempt to prevent these meetings of the rich going ahead.

    Quebec was the most recent. So what happened in Quebec that made a difference? The authorities put up a wire fence and succeeded in keeping the protesters away from the venue. But the media focused upon the protesters and not the agenda of the rich club. We learned that the purpose of the meeting of all the Finance Ministers of North and South America (except Cuba which does not meet the US definition of ‘democracy’) was to establish a Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA.

    The FTAA is modeled on NAFTA which was set up in 1992 to link Mexico, Canada and the US in one common market. Since 1992 the effects of NAFTA are clear. Mexico and Canada have been re-colonised by the US. NAFTA allows US firms to take Mexican and Canadian Governments to court if they pass legislation that limits profits. For example Metalclad Corporation got US$16 million from the Mexican Government because it was not allowed to dispose of waste and cause a public health hazard! FTAA will be the same only more. Today the US has a 75% share of the economy of the Americas. Under the FTAA it will gain an even larger share. The whole of the America’s will now become "Amerika".

    This means that as the US turns of the screws by re-colonising the America’s the class struggle will also become united across "Amerika". Workers in the North and South will now fight alongside one another in one big class, rather than be divided by nationalist politics which weakens and destroys all progessive movements.

    Already there are numerous examples of the formation of anti-free trade union and NGO alliances in the Americas. The first Summit of the Peoples of the Americas was held in Santiago Chile in April 1998. Since then many networks and coalitions have been built. Recently a top level coalition the Hemispheric Social Alliance was formed. However, these forces are still mainly international alliances of national organisations.

    This is the legacy of the nationalist reformist politics of the post-war period. On the Left the legacy has been to tail bourgeois nationalism. That is why the deadly patriotic front tradition of Stalinism, Maoism, and Guerillaism that accompanied the nationalist politics of the post-war period must now be countered by an increasingly internationalist struggle that has always at the centre of the Trotskyist movement. For not only is the FTAA an instrument for re-colonising the America, under the WTO, World Bank and other agreements, globalisation brings the same free trade regimes to Asia and Africa. The potential for a global anti-capitalist movement to fight to unite workers in many countries is now a real prospect.

    This is a big happening. Most of the left has become caught up in the enthusiasm of this struggle. The SWP thinks it’s the biggest thing to hit the class struggle since the Vietnam War. The SWP has split from its sister organisation the ISO in the US because it claims the ISO does not recognise the importance of the anti-capitalist phenomenon.

    The SWP thinks that this "new, new left" opens up the opportunity for a rapid regroupment of the left. To prove this is possible the SWP is having talks with the LCR in France, part of the International Secretariat, the main ‘Trotskyist tendency’. Both are prepared to ‘sideline’ their differences over the defence of the former SU and focus on the main tasks of today.

    However, neither of these tendencies has a record of struggle that gives us confidence in their leadership of a new regroupment of the revolutionary left. They both have a history of jumping onto bandwagons and calling them new ‘vanguards’ to replace the traditional labour movement. The current bandwagon of the anti-capitalist movement is a ‘youth bandwagon’, which has come around several times before in the post-war period. Each time youth were backed as more revolutionary than workers. The most famous was the ‘new left’ of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

    The ‘new left’ was more liberal than Marxist. Arising out of the post 1956 de-Stalinization it was a pacifist, humanist socialism, based mainly in the educated youth of the US and Europe. It protested the Vietnam War and rampant consumer capitalism, but it never joined forces with the conservative, established labour movement. Neither survived the austerity of the 1970’s nor the neo-liberal attacks of the 1980’s and 1990’s as a force for change. Some of the more colourful leaders of the new left became establishment figures but most dropped out of left politics.

    If the new left failed to unite with workers and build a revolutionary party at a time when labour was relatively strong, what will the new new left achieve at a time when labour is weak, and the power of the US hegemonic apparatus is on the rise? The weakness of the old new left will be compounded by the absence of any strong labour movement and left politics to graft onto the new generation of youth who have no history of class struggle. As Trotsky said of the late 1930’s the crisis of capitalism is the crisis of revolutionary leadership. Today the crisis of capitalist globalisation is even more acutely the crisis of revolutionary leadership.

    The class basis of resistance has to be re-created from the base up. The anti-capitalist bandwagon cannot side step rebuilding the labour unions by taking a cyberspace detour. Without the unions there is no ‘school for revolution’ (Trotsky). This is because only by fighting capital in the space of production is it possible to bring workers’ power to bear on capital.

    Taking on the state machine on the streets and barricades can only win when workers control the military and state forces. This will not happen until workers build militia to defend their workplaces from strike breaking and state repression. Hyperreal fictions that reality is anywhere but production are scenarios for disaster.

    So today as never before, the anti-capitalist movement needs revolutionary Marxist theory and practice. The new generations need to learn the lessons of successful revolutions and failed revolutions. That is why we have no confidence in the SWP or LCR as a new leadership. Both tendencies never learnt the lessons of the Bolsheviks and liquidated themselves as vanguard parties in the post-war period. The SWP rejected the defence of the SU the supreme test of Bolshevism. The IS rejected the working class vanguard for a number of non-worker vanguards. Neither can claim to even recognise the roots of their problems. So they cannot learn from their mistakes.

    The basic lessons are:

    class agency; class independence; and the democratic centralist party. Lets briefly define each of these.

  • Class Agency: only the working class can lead an anti-capitalist revolution. This is because the working class produces surplus-value and can use its power to stop production. Thus workers must build workplace organisations and united unions across international borders to control production.
  • Class Independence: the working class must lead all other oppressed classes (e.g. peasants) and groups (poor, unemployed, gay etc) in the struggle for socialism without making any concessions to the bourgeoisie or other hostile classes. The united front is counter-posed to the popular front.
  • Democratic centralist Party: the working class becomes an agency for revolution only when it is led by a revolutionary vanguard party organised on a democratic centralist basis. Democratic centralism in Lenin’s view allows the party to unite theory and practice in the struggle and constantly test its program for revolution.
  • Each of these lessons/principles of Bolshevism can be applied to the anti-capitalist movement today in the following way:
  • Class Agency: Many in the anti-capitalist movement do not see capitalism as about classes. They see it as a coalition of social movements that cut across classes. (e.g. the famous reference to the Zapatistas being viewed as gay, feminist, union, indigenous, black etc depending upon which aspect is identified with by any given social movement.) This pluralist concept of oppression/social movements has be critiqued by class analysis and a coalition built based upon working class leadership.
  • Class Independence: Working class independence becomes the basis for building the movement. Instead of confronting MNC capital at conventions and on the streets, workers should unite internationally to fight capitalism on the job. The target of free trade can then be replaced by the target of the MNC’s plants in a number of countries. Instead of entering popular or patriotic fronts (eg Mexico) to fight ‘free trade’ (which is only a symptom of the weakness of workers to reject low wages and conditions) international united fronts to win concessions from MNC’s in every country can be formed.
  • Democratic Centralist Party: Within the united fronts in which workers organisations take the lead, there has to be a no holds barred fight among revolutionary tendencies to create a revolutionary party on the model of the Bolshevik party. Patriotic frontists, reformists, nationalists, opportunists, ultralefts etc. have to be confronted and defeated in the struggles in the same way the Bolsheviks defeated the Mensheviks and ultralefts.
  • Turn the anti-capitalist movement into a
    Revolutionary Communist International!
    From Class Struggle, No 39 June-July 2001


    Carter Holt Harvey is now NZ’s No 2 company after the sale of Fletcher Energy, behind only Telecom. It is owned by International Paper one of the world’s biggest and most technologically advanced producers of pulp and paper. CHH has aggressively restructured its NZ operations over the last three years, cutting costs and streamlining operations. This has led to an improvement in its profits at the expense of jobs and working conditions. But it is now faced with a slowdown in the world economy and all time low prices for logs and a world slump in paper pulp prices. CHH has already shown itself willing to attack its workforce and now it has no option but to continue these attacks to stay competitive. Workers on guard!

    Best practice or worst practice?

    CHH was one of the first to take advantage of the ECA to defeat its powerful timber union after a 13-week strike in 1992. Most of those workers who remained at Kinleith joined the EPMU which has a philosophy of working in ‘partnership’ with employers. To stay competitive CH’s CEO Chris Liddell is a fan of new business methods based on ‘best practice’. The EPMU tries to keep pace with these best practices which in the last analysis mean increasing worker exploitation as workers deliver more ‘value for money’.

    This means the company adopts the most advanced methods in production, transport and supply, speeding up production and cutting costs. This is the knowledge economy in your face. According to Liddell the most successful global companies have fewer and fewer workers. The top ten US companies are today five times as big but employ fewer workers. Best practice for profits is worst practice for work conditions and job security.

    Take "flexibility". CHH has spent half a billion on new fibreboard plants in Australia and a veneer plant in Whangarei. But it closed down Mataura with 155 job losses and one shift at Kinleith with the loss 23 jobs. It upgraded its Kinleith plant during the day forcing the two remaining shifts to work nights from 4 pm and 12 pm.

    After two accidents caused by fatigue, 60 workers occupied the plant and refused to work at night for 10 days before Christmas last year. When it had no work it closed the plant for a week. So "Flexibility" for CHH means workers losing their jobs and working under worse, dangerous conditions, or having week-long split shifts. This is preparation for the ultimate in ‘flexibility’ –the casualisation of work were the boss is free to dictate the terms and conditions of work.

    CHH "picking winners"

    Another principle favoured by CEO Liddell is "picking winners". CH has invested in eCargo a NZ company that matches the freight needs of companies with transport companies on an Internet site to drive down costs. CHH has invested in an Aussie E-commerce company called Cyberlynx which streamlines "supply chain operations’. In plain language this is an internet "just in time" delivery system reducing both delays and stockpiling of goods and services.

    CHH recently introduced what it calls the i2b programme where it held a competition among workers for new ideas to make more money for the company. One winner was chosen because he was seen selling Xmas trees on the street. CHH management did hand out prizes to the 750 workers laid off for a compulsory weeks holiday on January 26 for doing much more creative things to pay their bills.

    Most daring, CHH has spun off a Human Relations company called ‘Mariner7" to sell all its ideas on how to exploit workers more efficiently to other companies. One of these ideas is to create company unions to smash what remaining influence existing unions have in defending jobs and conditions. And where workers fight back it means using scab labour and company unions to enforce ‘best practice’ i.e. worst practice.

    Mainland Stevedoring

    Carter Holt Harvey saved its best move to contract an ‘independent’ union, Mainland Stevedoring, to load logs by using computers to pack more logs into the holds. This was a ‘best practice’ that directly challenged the WWU and threatened to casualise wharf labour practices even more than they already were. Even though this was a threat every bit as serious as in 1951, the WWU leadership has chosen to steer industrial action back into parliament. The best that the Labour-Alliance Government could offer was ‘mediation’, that old golden cow that the ‘class neutral’ state could try and negotiate a deal between CHH and WWU.

    But that would have been a ‘bad practice’ for CHH since it would give in to union ‘monopoly’ and stand over tactics. The CTU President Ross Wilson chimed in saying that "we remain committed to the mediation process". He complained that peaceful pickets had been undermined by "police over-reaction and the use of confrontational tactics". Meanwhile while the CTU and the WWU appeal to the police, the government and the company to ‘be fair’, CHH gets its logs loaded on the cheap and workers lose their jobs.

    CHH picking on losers?

    So far CHH has been able to win what it wants by picking off sections of the workforce under separate union coverage. The occupation over night shift was a good move and succeeded in winning back a day shift. This should be the lesson – more industrial action at the point of production, to stop CHH where it hurts.

    WWU has marshalled hundreds of supporters on their picket line, but no concerted union support has meant that cops and scabs got through every time. Worse, small groups and individuals were isolated and bashed by the cops. The defeat of these pickets was only because they were not mass pickets.

    The MUA struggle in Australia in 1998 showed that mass pickets have the potential to win much wider support and prevent both police and scabs from access. Similarly, despite their limits, the Kinleith occupation and the WWU pickets have put pressure on the national CTU leadership to organise its own campaign against CHH to try to settle the disputes. We welcome this initiative but expect that left to the CTU leadership it will do no more than tie workers to the ERA legal framework of the so-called ‘partnership’ between labour and capital.

    Mediation and ‘partnership’

    The problem with mediation as practiced by the CTU and in particular the EPMU, is that it believes, like the Labour Government, that industrial disputes can be settled by good faith and compromise. But even the NZ Herald does not believe this. In an editorial on 27 January 2001 it said "…mediation is of little use, and may well be detrimental, when fundamental principles are in conflict."

    Of course the NZ Herald thinks that the principle at stake here is the right of CH to employ whatever union they like. The Herald’s owner Tony O’Reilly, like CHH, won’t compromise this principle. This is why all the negotiations between the CTU, CHH and government have failed already.

    The ERA does not allow workers to stop scabs working unless agreements are being negotiated. And this Labour-Alliance Government is not going to amend the ERA to ban scab unions. That would be regarded by the bosses like Stephen Tindall of the Warehouse as an open attack on their class. After the rough ride it got on taking office, Labour will do anything to avoid upsetting the bosses again.

    This means that to defend the principle of union labour against scab labour, workers have to break the law just like the Kinleith occupation and WWU picketers have done over the last weeks. But the key is to do it as a mass of thousands of workers so that workers organised might can win and become the basis of their labour right.

    A Winning Workers’ Campaign

    A successful campaign needs to mobilise all CHH workers to stop production. Just as CHH has deliberately streamlined its business internationally to minimise disruptions in the supply, production and marketing of logs and pulp, CHH workers need to organise internationally to interrupt this process at the most vital points.

    1. Stop work at the plants. Occupations are the best method since workers occupying the workplace makes it more difficult for bosses to run the plant. Kinleith workers have shown that they can take such action and win. On a larger scale which stops production completely, the boss has to make concessions. Workers in Australian and North American plants should be encouraged to take solidarity actions.
    2. Stop the flow of raw materials and finished products. CHH has attempted to reduce this risk by using non-contracted casualised carriers. But the organised drivers under the NDU would be able to stop the flow of logs and paper pulp. French truckies have shown that they can blockade the nation’s transport system and force Government’s to make concessions. International bans by dockers in Korea and the US played a big part in the MUA struggle.
    3. Mass pickets to prevent the use of scab labour. The WWU pickets have failed only because they were not supported by thousands of workers like the MUA pickets in Australia. It’s true that the MUA pickets were undermined by scab workers, but the mass pickets were not generalised because they were not under rank and file control. Any union policy that downplays pickets as publicity stunts designed to embarrass bosses or governments needs to be replaced by a policy of REAL, MASS, pickets.
    4. International union bans on CHH products. Because CH is a multinational, and has diversified into e-commerce operations such as eCargo, Cyberlynx and Mariner7, an important part of international solidarity with striking CHH workers is a ban on all CHH products and services. As well as providing solidarity this would have an important educational benefit as these goods and services are used to speed up production in order to increase the exploitation of workers.
    To mount such a campaign, the rank and file members of the unions involved in dispute with CHH, including EPMU, NDU and WWU, must call an ‘all up’ meeting of the combined unions to plan a campaign and to elect delegates to a strike committee to organise and lead that campaign.

    The issue of ‘breaking the law’

    Picketers ‘breaking the law’ has been the constant refrain from the radical right like ACT. But from a workers’ perspective any law that is used to limit their freedom to organise to defend their basic rights and conditions has to be broken. The bosses rely upon workers observing the law to get what they want. They use labour law to impose ‘mediation’ only when they know that this is on their terms. When it’s not they do not hesitate to break the law! There is only one law and that is the bosses’ law.

    Strike action to be effective is illegal under the ERA. But rather than isolating and exposing a few militants to the force of the law, mass action has the potential to build workers’ power in the workplace and challenge the law. For example the MUA pickets in 1998 were technically illegal, but because they were massive, workers forced the company and the Government onto the defensive.

    The SWO call for a union ban on CHH products is tactically wrong. It is a tactic that should only be used to ban the handling of products already subject to strike action. By itself it interrupts the circulation of goods but it does not stop the production process. If a union ban is called in isolation of CHH workers taking strike action, at best it would be ineffective, but at worst it would isolate unions indirectly linked to the dispute and not backed up by mass strike action, exposing them to the forces of the state.

    Rebuild the Unions!

    We are opposed to moves by the CTU to limit the development of industrial action to the rule of law represented by the ERA. We are opposed to promoting illusions that present the interests of workers and employers as ‘harmonious’, or in ‘partnership’. This is a partnership where one partner is getting screwed, that is the workers who create the wealth including the boss’s profits.

    We are for the rebuilding of the union movement from its present low ebb where less than 20% of workers are members and even fewer are covered by collective agreements. We are for workers reclaiming the right to strike by taking action independent of the state. The right to strike is the might to strike and it can only be won by strong, organised unions.

    1. Build Fighting, Democratic unions based on the rank and file membership.
    2. For the election of delegates by the rank and file, who are accountable to the rank and file and subject to immediate recall if they vote or act contrary to their mandate.
    3. For all-up meetings of the rank and file to decide strategy and tactics.
    4. For strike committees elected by the rank and file.
    5. For international solidarity among unions, and the election of international strike committees in disputes against multinational companies.
    For an immediate all-up meeting of members of CHH unions to plan a campaign against CHH and to elect a strike committee of the combined unions to lead the campaign

    CTU meeting to plan campaign against CHH

    A combined meeting of the CTU and the unions associated with CHH was held in at Ngongotaha on 14 March. The unions represented included the Waterfront Workers, Engineers, NDU and Seafarers. The purpose of the meeting was to strategise a union approach to CHH moves against unions. Also present were some of the CHH site delegates from around the B.O.P/ Waikato region.

    Because this correspondent was not a direct participant in the meeting and delegates were sworn to secrecy, the outcome of the meeting has yet to be verified. The promise of a short statement from the meeting did not eventuate.

    Outside the conference venue was what could be loosely described as a united front action consisting mainly of SWO members and supporters. Also present were 3 members of the CWG. Both groups acting independently distributed leaflets and literature on the issue of CHH and the unions.

    Of interest was the response of those participating in the meeting towards the leaflets. Because the tactics being advocated by the SWO called for union bans on CHH products, this was not taken favourably by the CHH workers who were present. They believed that bans would affect their jobs and livelihoods. It would have been better for the CHH workers themselves to decide on a course of action rather than have one imposed from the outside. "Bunch of students" was one of the comments passed on by one of the delegates during the lunch break, the only time when any indication of the mood of the meeting was made.

    Also mentioned was the cool atmosphere between the NDU wood sector delegates and the engineers. Their cooperation was made possible only because both unions now came under the umbrella of the CTU for the common purpose of dealing with CHH.

    As we predicted in our leaflet, a hint was let drop of a tripartite meeting to be held between the Government, CTU and CHH. CHH was not pleased with the CTU getting involved, but seems to have agreed that a meeting with Government was better than the spectre of militant union action.

    On a positive note, the CWG leaflet "All Out to Stop Carter Holt" was welcomed. It reflected a rank and file perspective putting the initiative on the CHH workers themselves with a bit of prodding from a certain left-wing quarter. Arising out of this leaflet a CWG member was nominated for national vice president of the NDU wood sector by B.O.P/Waikato rank-and-file delegates at Kawerau on 25 March.

    This at least gives recognition to the realistic program being promoted by the CWG although it is early days yet. The complete understanding of this program by the wood sector workers and others can only help to strengthen the level of consciousness among workers to take on the likes of CHH.

    From Class Struggles No 38 April-May 2001