The question of rightful authority in New Zealand, has been a contentious issue for the Crown and the many tribes and organizations representing Maori. Since the signing of the so called Declaration Of Independence in 1835 and the Treaty Of Waitangi in 1840, the scene has been set for a state of political confusion that has thrown up more questions than answers. Least answered of course is the debate concerning the role of workers in the whole matter. We argue that today the only way forward for Maori is as members of the working class.

The purpose of this article is to establish an alternative to the archaic legalisms being trotted out by those who quite rightly seek redress for past and continuing injustices against Maori control over their own destinies. But the issue must finally become one of workers control from all races.

Since new progressive knowledge has been gained in the last 150 years such as Marx’s Communist Manifesto of 1848 and international workers struggles against the rule of "Law" have come to light, the major question becomes, "Whose Law?" Its origins and "Class" content becomes central to the inevitable answer.

A short history lesson of events surrounding the 1835 Declaration shows that far from being a founding document based on noble principle, it was in fact the result of personal animosity between its author James Busby the first crown appointed NZ resident and Thomas McDonnell the second appointed resident. McDonnell together with local chief from the Hokianga initiated laws banning the landing or sale of liquor.

As far as Busby was concerned, this was an affront to his authority. To make a public issue of it, would have made Busby out to be petty minded.

At exactly the same time, Busby received a letter from Frenchman Baron De Thierry stating his intention to establish a sovereign independent state in the Hokianga. Busby would use this as a means to remove McDonnell assumed authority with Maori by claiming that the French had imperialist designs on NZ and that it was important that a confederation of chiefs declare a state of independence friendly to Britain.

In all, 52 chiefs signed the DOI1835 with Potatau Te Wherowhero from Waikato being the last to sign in 1839. Clearly the document conceived at very short notice was never intended to be sincere and in the spirit of goodwill to Maori. Its expedient purpose having achieved its outcome, its authors' hopes were that it would just fade away. As far as the chiefs who signed were concerned, all was above board and in good faith.

This is very much the position held today by the Confederation of the United Tribes of Aotearoa, Te Kingitanga, Te Kotahitanga, Tinorangatiratanga Maori, The Peoples Sovereign Independence Movement, Mana Maori, and The Tenants Party of Aotearoa etc.

Whether ignorant of the declarations true origins or not, the above parties rely on a mandate borne of traditions and practices stretching back to the dawn of humanity in exactly the same way as the British Crown’s own authority originated. If those laws or authority handed down through the generations, were the result of a ruling layer wishing to impose their will on subordinated subjects, then it calls into question the validity of that authority.

The issue of Class

But this question can only arise when one is faced with the issue of class. Stacked up against idealised or even romanticised tradition, the class issue is treated as an anathema to God and religion, the very bulwarks that prop up the power of the ruling class through fear.

Equally reactionary by its effect, is the process of culturally marginalizing a people to such an extent, that the victims in order to fight against their masters, end up adopting the very same methods used against them. In the case of Aotearoa / NZ, it has been an adaptation to the capitalist mode of production by tribal leaders to form an economic base without understanding the contradictions of their actions.

Most of those nationalists who support Maori Independence and struggle, fail to see the irony of their predicament when many are heard to say that they can cut deals with other capitalists under the auspices of the DOI1835 document.

Who needs those buggers down in Wellington anyway?

The Auckland APEC conference of 1999 saw representatives from various quarters within the Confederated Tribes try to cut deals with corporates, while anti-globalisation protests were taking place outside. One such group claiming to be a Maori workers co-operative and supporter of the "Green Dollar", proudly placed its banner under the Confederations flag. They have even printed their own money. The confederation has never claimed to be an advocate of socialised means of production, so it is not surprising that within its ranks, its programme is the maintenance of the economic status quo.

"Class" is not an issue confined to school, grades of meat or wool. It is central to understanding what is required to seriously tackle the root cause of societies problems. Many in the Maori struggle have yet to understand this. By taking the traditionalist path, they come face to face with their own contradictions.

Much tribal land was not only lost through raupatu [confiscation] during the colonial period, but sold out right by chiefly rulers who were the only ones mandated to do as they liked regarding land. This dispossession of their tribes’ peoples birthright is a clear illustration of the class divisions that developed in the past and will be further encouraged if some in the nationalist camp have it their way.

It is exactly the same method as practiced by the most cunning and calculating captains of industry whose high standing in mainstream society is a function of their ability to rip people off.

If this article looks like yet another attack on Maori, it is not meant to be. The problem has had to be faced up to by every people and culture on the planet confronted by the big question of "class." Calls to overthrow the Monarchy in England pre-date both the DOI1835 and the Treaty of Waitangi in Aotearoa. Cries of emancipation from within that culture, recognised that something was seriously wrong with its rulers as an example. Dissent was practiced in pre-Europe and Maori society in much the same way as it was practiced everywhere else. There were those who posed serious questions to their leaders, running the risk of serious reprimand or worse.

So it is pointless idealising a past that probably never existed. Having witnessed the antics within my own tribe Tainui, and having seen those responsible for the monumental screw-up go up the road to Ngati Whatua and make a $17 million mess of it for that tribe, we can clearly see that those given authority to lead, have no authority worth a damn.

To avoid the class issue altogether, all Maori nationalists have sought redress through legal processes starting with the DOI1835. The nationalists overlook the Statute of Westminster of 1931 that ended British political sovereignty over NZ. By viewing the Crown as still having ‘authority’ over NZ they oppose NZ breaking completely from Britain and becoming a Republic.

NZ a Republic?

If ties to Britain were severed completely as in the case of the United States, whose leaders were all bourgeois anyway, then NZ could say that its mandate to govern was made unilaterally by the people of NZ through a referendum, so long as an Independent Republic was proclaimed at the same time. This would give substance to laws passed in NZ.

The idea of declaring a Republic, scares the hell out of many in the pro- Te Tiriti / The Treaty camp, because it wipes out the Crown part of the equation. While this is true, it does not remove the NZ government’s obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi a document that is legally held to supercede the 1835 DOI in NZ law.

This makes the nationalists position politically reactionary. By holding to the Crown, the nationalists become the unwitting instrument in its continued preservation, [partners with British Imperialism.] .

And it is a reactionary utopia anyway. Busby’s appointment as NZ resident by the British government did not give him the status equal to a Governor General, [ in other words, a King by proxy], which by the nationalists own argument, puts Busby in the same boat as the current NZ settler government. As the initiator and author of the DOI1835, Busby was a mere witness to the Declaration by the Confederated chiefs of Aotearoa.

Because the British were deemed more trustworthy [according to Busby] than the French, Maori leaders [through Busby], sought to put themselves under the protection of the British in the event that their position became threatened by outside powers. King William IV was asked to be, the "parent protecting the infant state." This is stated in article 4 of the DOI1835, a major stumbling block for the Confederation. It paternalistically places their Sovereignty under the protection of Britain on the key issue. Like Rangatiratanga and Kawanatanga as mentioned in Te Tiriti O Waitangi and The Treaty of Waitangi, interpretation of terminology depending on whom it suits, soon acts like a spanner thrown into the works.

Sucking up to the G-G

The problem for the current Confederation is, having side lined the Wellington government as irrelevant, protocol according to them, requires that the correct channels be established to the British Crown through its proper representatives, such as a Governor General to make full and to the letter, the demands as prescribed by the 1835 Declaration.

So far, the invite has never been taken up, nor will it ever be. To do so, would undo the original intention of Britain [through Busby and the missionaries] to colonise Aotearoa on its terms and not that of Maori. Like the Wellington government, the DO1835 should equally be seen in the same light by the same standards.

Except for article 4, the declaration might have something going for its advocates, yes?

Don’t hold your breath! Having been repeatedly ignored by the British Crown for more than 150 years, surely its time to wake up and realise that the games up. So called good intentions were always going to be followed by a big stick. The coming NZ land wars were to be the proof of that.

Each time Maori interests make representations to the Privy Council, the response is always the same, "Go home and sort it out with your own NZ government." Trying to keep alive a process that is never going to deliver to Maori, benefits only but a few lawyers and the legal merry go-round and squanders any chance of making better use of limited resources. Just look at the Fisheries Commission circus as an example. Which brings us back to the question asked at the beginning of the article, " Whose law is it anyway?"

As mentioned earlier, laws and power as practiced and imposed by rulers for most of humanity’s existence, have come about because those subjected to them have never had a say in their implementation. The only time that has ever been achieved in recorded history, was during the Paris Commune of 1871, brutally suppressed by Louis Bonaparte and the short number of years immediately following the 1917 October Russian Revolution until Stalin.

"Rank and File power to Workers" is a total anathema to ALL rule outside of those two major events. Cloaked in religion and mystique, past rulers were able to impose their will to such an extent that their practices became accepted as normal and hence became a part of "Tradition and Lore". Religion and imposed power from outside of workers control are one and the same. A static state beyond question far removed from the dynamic and fluid forces taking place around it. Nature being the starting point of all things, tells us that material reality is the only basis on which to win a positive future for humanity and not fanciful metaphysical delusions.

"Where do you get your authority?"

This is a common call often heard from those involved in the Maori struggle when directed at the settler government and its representatives, especially the Police and the Judiciary. But equally it is a question that could be asked of themselves and many more in society at large.

The lack of an answer is an immediate recognition that history shows that no one can lay claim to legitimate authority outside of a Workers Revolution on its terms. If cutting deals with the US President and knowing his track record against workers, but recognising his authority is OK, then spelled out under workers control and conditions, that authority would be deemed unacceptable. Indeed that authority would be labeled criminal.

The past like the future doesn’t exist, so the only conditions necessary to judge the legitimacy of authority, should be based on the dynamic conditions of the present and not archaic forms.

So where does that leave the Maori struggle today? Rather than relying on the leaders of the past, whose own laws and traditions have been trampled on, a new start is necessary. That dynamic condition that affects us all, is modern destructive neo-liberal Capitalism. Already the forces of collective workers struggle are marshalling in places such as Argentina against the powers of "Authority". Corrupt, because they were the power of the few over the masses, like the rest of human history. No amount of parochial tribalism or petty nationalism is going to be able to fight against the forces of the bosses being mustered at the present moment.

Already Bush has pledged trillions more dollars to his military to fight against the up coming struggle against the poor, the downtrodden and indigenous struggles. The NZ settler government has indicated in no uncertain terms that it is determined to be a part of that effort. The future of Maori struggle in Aotearoa lies with it taking on board the international workers struggles as its own. The forces of the boss class know no borders. So like them, we as Maori and workers should also not recognise the limitations of borders in our struggle. To do so, would be like fighting with both hands tied behind ones back while blindfolded.

The struggle has to be truly United International and Revolutionary.

The struggle is based on the international unity of workers. The big weakness within the Maori struggle is the inability to grasp what internationalism is. Token discussions by Tame Iti about class struggle, amount to nothing if he suddenly decides to shoot over to Fiji and give moral support to anti-trade union capitalist George Speight. Looking native has never been a good excuse to lend support to any body if their agenda is the further subjugation of workers. It is a known fact that Speight intended to introduce legislation, not too dissimilar to the Employment Contracts Act after his coup, which really would have screwed workers. Not falling into that trap and getting caught up in the contradictions that it throws up is possible only if Maori choose to make their struggle a Workers struggle.

The future leaders of Maori are not the entrepreneurial captains of capitalist industry or those limited by petty tribal demands, they are after all, the whipping boys of the bosses above them. They are not those who promise a better future under a reformed and more humane capitalism either. They will come from the ranks of workers within the trade unions and those in the general labour work force not in unions because of destructive in-roads made by bosses in previous years and their union bureaucratic lackeys.

It’s always been cool to be called a Workers Revolutionary. But to be called a Maori International Workers Revolutionary, sounds even better. How ‘bout You ?

Te Taua Karuwhero, Waikato, Ngaruahine Hapu O Ngati Ruanui O Taranaki

For Workers Internationalism
For Rank and File control of all industry and utilities
Open borders under Workers control
For a Workers Republic of Aotearoa

[from Class Struggle, 43 February/March 2002


We reprint here an important article from Workers Democracy N8 January 22 on the role of the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre held in the first week of February. We do not necessarily agree with all of the analysis, for example Workers Democracy’s decision to boycott the alternative forums held by the LBI and PO. We do agree with the call an international conference to found a new Zimmerwald. A front to prevent the advance of the Latin American and world-wide revolution, in the service of the imperialistic powers and their lackeys, the Latin American bosses´ regimes.

Yankee imperialism has begun, with the support of the European imperialistic powers and its gendarme the state of Israel, a counter-revolutionary war to try to smash the great revolution of the working class and the Palestinian people. The Israeli genocidal army has entered with blood and fire the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, occupying it, and totally unmasking the farce of a "Palestinian state" co-existing next to Israeli state.

While it threatens to intervene militarily in Colombia, and after bomb-blasting Afghanistan, Bush has jailed in Guantanamo -with the support of Fidel Castro- the heroic internationalist militias that went to fight in Afghanistan.

With these counterrevolutionary blows and offensives, the imperialistic butchers try to give a lesson to the workers and the oppressed peoples of the world, and thus, also to discipline still more their own working classes. It is the counterrevolutionary answer to the great Palestinian Revolution, and to the revolution that has begun in Argentina and whose example and expansive waves represent a threat with the reopening of working class and farmers' struggles in the whole of Latin America.

If some time ago Yankee imperialism needed to extract from the exploitation and plundering of the semi colonial countries US$ 1000 million daily to maintain its cycle of growth, now under thee blows of the world-wide economic and financial crisis that has hit the US economy, it needs to go bombing and smashing his way like in Afghanistan, attacking its own working class with millions of layoffs, and take on a re-colonizing offensive against the oppressed peoples of the world, so as to maintain its dominant power against the competition of the European powers and Japan.

It needs to eliminate the old borders of the post Second War period, imposing new protectorates like in Kosovo or Afghanistan, with massacres like in East Timor (Indonesia) and sending whole countries into bankruptcy to make them again into colonies, with their economies under the direct control of a board of the big bankers and the imperialistic organizations such as IMF, WB, WTO, etc., as it intends to do in Argentina.

But its counter-revolutionary policy is incomplete if simultaneously the imperialist butchers do not use counterrevolutionaries of all colors in their paid service, so that they strangle from inside the revolutions in their course and restrain the fight of the workers and the exploited. For that reason, (at the same time that the imperialistic strategists reunite in NY for another stage of the Davos round. ) these paid agents and their aides reunite again in February, in the forum of Porto Alegre, Brazil, to form the counterrevolutionary "international".

There, under the auspices of the governments of the European imperialistic regimes, meet the representatives of Fidel Castro and the Cuban restorationist bureaucracy, who support Bush in its "war against terrorism" and are co-responsible for the imprisonment of the internationalist militia fighters for Afghanistan, in the Yankee Military Headquarters in Guantanamo Bay; thus Fidel and his restorationist clique are completing their tasks to buy their right to recycle themselves as bourgeoisie and accomplish the total restoration of capitalism in Cuba.

Going also re the representatives of the FARC and Latin American Stalinism in all its variants, and even the French imperialistic multimedia Le Monde, and also the Church, which while it speaks of "peace", blesses the bombs and the weapons of the imperialistic butchers and the defeats of the oppressed peoples, like in Malvinas (so-called Falklands by its long robbers, the British imperialists. NT).

There also will be the European Social Democracy that, with Tony Blair, Jospin, Schroeder, administer the imperialistic European businesses, and the social Democratic and Stalinist union bureaucracy of France, Spain, Italy, etc., who bind the working class of those countries in social pacts to subordinate them each one to their "own" imperialistic bourgeoisie, preventing these workers from supporting the workers and the oppressed peoples, like in the wars in the Balkans and also in Afghanistan.

There also will be the union bureaucracy of the North American AFL-CIO that supports Bush in his war against Afghanistan and his reactionary National Front (that is, the use of great power chauvinism to poison workers’ consciousness and subordinate them to their bosses’ counterrevolutionary and imperialistic plans.), allowing the ferocious attack on its own North American working class, with millions of layoffs, wage cuts and "flexibilization".

Next to these will be the union bureaucracies of all the American Continent: the CGT and the CTA of Argentina, the CUT of Brazil, the PIT-CNT of Uruguay, the Chilean CUT, etc., elbow to elbow with the employer’s association of the PyMes (Little and Medium-sized Enterprises.) of Argentina, and bosses’ representatives of other countries in all the continent. There will be the leaders of the farmers’ movement of Ecuador, of Bolivia, of the MST (Landless farmers) of Brazil, alongside, for example, the "unions" of the Brazilian police, the same ones the constitute the "death squads" who have assassinated the leader of the Brazilian PT, Celso Daniel, or who protect and arm the white guards of the landowners who have just shot in the back the leader of the MST, Jose Rainha.

"Not love, but fear holds them together"

What is it that explains the meeting of such like-minded counterrevolutionary leaderships, originating from all points of the planet? How do we understand the uniting in the same Forum of the union bureaucracy of the North American AFL-CIO, agent of Bush and the Yankee monopolies, with the European Social Democracy and union bureaucracies, agents each one of the imperialistic monopolies of France, Germany, Italy, etc? How is it explained that they all meet together, when their respective heads, Yankee imperialism and the European powers are joined in a ferocious commercial war for markets, raw materials and zones of influence, in Latin America, in Asia, in Africa, in the ex-workers states in liquidation like China and Russia?

The explanation is that there is no longer, like before, the great world-wide counter revolutionary apparatus directed and centralized by the Stalinist bureaucracy of the USSR whose role was to contain the world-wide revolution. That Stalinist bureaucracy was recycled as a bourgeoisie, and gave the old worker states of Russia, China and the Eastern European countries over to capitalist restoration. For that reason, there must be a Sacred Union of the Social Democracy in the imperialist countries and the recycled Stalinists who are now the agents for each one of their own bourgeoisies, along with all the treacherous union bureaucracies, as well as the Church, so that they facilitate their role of containment of the world wide revolution.

While today they all attend this forum out of their common interests, that will not prevent them tomorrow to take sides with their respective imperialistic bourgeoisies in the defense of the latter’s separate interests to strengthen each one its master in the coming inter-imperialistic disputes. Moreover, in this same meeting, each imperialistic power is already instructing its own agents to defend its particular interests and businesses.

This "counter-revolutionary International" exists for the sake of strangling the fight of the masses with Popular Front policies of class collaboration.

All these counter revolutionary agents meet in Porto Alegre to discuss how to strangle and to restrain the revolutions and the struggles of the workers and the exploited. Speaking of "humanized Capitalism", "peace", "participatory democracy", "anti-neoliberalism", they prepare sleep-inducing popular front policies, of class collaboration, to deceive the masses with sweet talk, to thus give time to the imperialistic powers, and to the bourgeois regimes and governments, so that they can prepare their schemes, counter revolutionary attacks and blood baths.

They speak of "peace" to disarm the working class and the exploited farmers wherever they have begun to arm themselves or where they have joined militia, Like in Palestine, and also in order to prevent workers and poor farmers from arming where they are just beginning to think of doing so or even where there is the slightest shadow of a possibility of workers and people arming themselves.

They are definite foes of the self-organization and direct democracy of the masses, they hate the idea of the exploited and oppressed taking into their own hands the resolution of their problems. For that purpose they make social pacts, they divide the working class from the farmers and the ruined middle-class, make them subservient to the different fractions of the bourgeoisie, destroy at each stage what the masses win in the fight. They force them to fight country by country, separate the working class of the semi-colonial countries from their class allies in the imperialistic powers they support, and subordinate these working classes to the interests of their "own" imperialistic bourgeoisies.

Arafat and the national bourgeoisie of Palestine speak of "peace", say that they want a "Palestinian State" next to the Israeli Zionist state, while they request the UN to intervene with "peace keeping troops", try to disarm the working class and the people, and keep them separated from their brothers and sisters, the exploited in the whole Middle East. They have given imperialism and the State of Israel and its genocidal army a precious time allowing them to commence the counterrevolutionary war that attempts to smash the Great, Heroic Palestine Revolution.

In Ecuador the Stalinist leadership of the peasants movement and the working class, aborted the revolution. Along with the bourgeoisie, they set a trap for the exploited ones emboldened after throwing out two presidents in less than three years, the peasant masses –separated from the working class, which the Stalinist leaders of the unions had tied up hands-to-feet- were left to carry put revolutionary actions in mid 2000. They had been misguided by their leaders to think the task would be very easy, and sincerely believed their leadership was equally committed to overturn president Noboa as they were. But the bourgeoisie was prepared: it used the army to remove the peasants from the streets and defeated the masses, negotiated with the peasants’ leaders and passed the dollarization of Ecuadorian economy.

In Colombia, the Stalinist leadership of the FARC governs in the territories it occupies with a popular front in collaboration with the national bourgeoisie that controls the cocaine business. It also blocs with the landowners, whose private property is respected in exchange for a "revolutionary tax", and keeps the peasants separated from the working class in the cities. While, the Stalinist leadership of the unions controls the working class movement, so preventing it from uniting its struggles with the peasants’ and leaves both workers and peasants at the mercy of Pastrana’s government and the paramilitary gangs that assassinate at close range their political leaders and union activists.

In Brazil, Lula and the PT, and the leaders of the CUT –hosts to the Forum of Porto Alegre- speak of "peace" and "participative democracy", while they tie the hands of the working class with social pacts, divide it from the landless peasants, support the repressive government of Cardoso, while the white guards massacre in the fields and the police death squads reappear to attack the workers’ organizations and the left.

In Chile, the Communist Party that controls the unions and the student federations, supports the "conciliationist" government of Lagos and the cosmetic reforms made to the Constitution of the 80’s, so that the Pinochetist regime can remain unchanged under the mask of an allegedly "democratic" one. In El Salvador and Nicaragua, the FLMN and the Sandinists, respectively, after having bargained the revolution to its enemies in those countries in the 80’s with the Fidelista counterrevolutionary pacts in Esquipulas and Contadora, have transformed themselves into political parties that, in the municipalities and national governments alike, are the administrators of the plans of the IMF.

All together they prepare now to also strangle the Argentine revolution: they are getting ready a popular front of class collaboration with bourgeois politicians like Elisa Carrio and the priest Farinello, with union bureaucrats, Stalinism in its different variants, a deceitful front with which, despite the weakness of the government of Duhalde they will try to induce sleep in the masses to give time to imperialism and the national bourgeoisie to enlist a caste of (military) officials and the paramilitary gangs and killers so that a blood bath is being prepared.

The "International" to fight against the proletarian internationalism.

Against all the affirmations of the secretary of the Yankee Treasury O’Neill, who said that Argentina’s crisis is "isolated", the tidal wave of the Argentine revolutions has begun to strike in Latin America and the world.

In the first place, in Spain; the imperialistic monopolies of that country lost US$ 2000 million in a day in the Madrid stock-market, the collapse of the shares of Telefonica, Repsol, and the Spanish banks is self-demonstrative. It is clear now that the supposed "Spanish miracle" was nothing but a "false midwinter summer" of "sweet money" based on the enormous windfall profits made by these bloodsuckers at the expense of the super exploitation of the workers and people of Argentina and all Latin America, where they are left with most of the privatized companies!

The imperialistic butchers fear that the tidal wave of the Argentine revolution will revive the worker and popular uprising that began in Latin America in the heat of the Ecuadorian revolution, and that that struggle which was strangled by the action of the union bureaucracies and the Stalinists, now resurrects and regains momentum and in much better conditions, because the worldwide economic and financial crisis already goes to the heart of the United States.

And that wick has begun to ignite: the Bolivian workers and farmers have risen up again in Cochabamba, entering a true civil war with the army and the police, arming themselves and responding to the murder of their companion farmers with the execution of the military that fall into their hands. The university and high school students of Ecuador won the streets confronting the police assassins sent by president Noboa against them, as harbingers of the return to combat of the heroic workers and farmers. The workers and people of Peru persist with a great working class and popular offensive. Yesterday they threw out Fujimori and today they resist the weak government of Toledo.

The imperialists shake their knees in fear to think that, like in the decade of the 70’s, the working class of the Southern Cone, retains the enormous combat efficiency and revolutionary fist that terrorized the bourgeoisie and imperialism in that decade!

The Argentina workers and people need to unite to fight across the borders with our class brothers and sisters in the whole of Latin America, in concerted combat to defeat imperialism and the lackey governments and regimes. We must unite our most powerful class battalions, our brothers and sisters of the North American and European working class, in the first place –with its most exploited sectors, Latino, Blacks, Arabs, Africans, etc.- who are treated as pariahs in those countries, because they can strike at the same heart of these butchers and bloodsuckers.

It is a matter of life or death for the workers and the people that initiated the revolution in Argentina, because there, in the forum of Porto Alegre, are those who are preparing to strangle it. What is more, if we advance and we manage to make our revolution triumph, the imperialistic powers will no doubt try to smash us dropping their bombs, as they did in Afghanistan, and in the Falklands. Can we hope that the AFL-CIO that supports Bush in his re-colonization war against Afghanistan and in the attacks against its own working class, will call upon that class to rise in our support? Can we hope that Fidel Castro, who supports the imprisonment of the internationalist militias in Guantanamo, will call upon the whole continent to rise against imperialism?

Can we hope that the reformist union bureaucracies of the European countries will call on the working class to stop the imperialistic military machine, with a boycott, a general strike and confronting its own bourgeoisie and the imperialistic regimes, when they have allowed them to bomb and massacre in Iraq, in the Balkans, and in Afghanistan?

In order to win the unity of the working class and the exploited people of Latin America, it is necessary to defeat the union bureaucracies and Stalinism. We cannot be united with our class brothers and sisters in the United States, France, or Spain, without the defeat of the labor aristocracy and the union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO and the European unions.

Down with the "counter revolutionary International" of the Porto Alegre Forum!

It is necessary to rebuild the IV International, the one revolutionary International, today usurped and besmirched by the centrists, opportunists and Pabloites! The usurpers of Trotskyism kneel down before this "counter revolutionary International of the Porto Alegre Forum"! Long live the IV International! For an International Conference of principled Trotskyism to rebuild the IV International regenerated and re-founded!

The Porto Alegre forum is the International to that we could call "Fifth and a Quarter": because it is not only the Second International –the Social Democracy-, the remains of the third International –the Stalinists-, but also has "a quarter" in it, contributed by the centrists, opportunists and Pabloites that usurp the banners of Trotskyism and the Fourth International.

The French LCR will be there, and its leader Alain Krivine, deputy to the den of thieves that is the European "Parliament" –already a defender of the interests of their own imperialistic bourgeoisie; alongside will be the fraternal parties, Bandiera Rossa of Italy, the Spanish LCR that is in the United Left with the Stalinists, and the Democratic Socialists of Brazil, that are in government in Porto Alegre with the PT of Lula.

There will also be Self-determination and Freedom, party of the renegade "Trotskyist" deputy Luis Zamora –today a left-democrat-, the "The Militant" current, the British SWP, the UIT-CI which is supporting the MST of Argentina (long ago a partner of Stalinism in Izquierda Unida, United Left, NTO, the LIT-CI with its PST-U of Brazil and the FOS of Argentina. Also the Workers Party (Partido Obrero) of Argentina, that repeats its shameful tradition as a founder of the Forum of San Pablo, that predecessor of the treacherous Forum of Porto Alegre.

Other currents of self-proclaimed Trotskyists will participate in the "alternative forums" meeting in the outskirts of the official Forum, that are no more that the "left" cover of the counter-revolutionary "international", that were held at last year’s Forum by the PTS of Argentina and the LBI of Brazil.

The centrists, opportunists and Pabloites run to put themselves on the feet of the Forum of Porto Alegre, showing that their international policy is but the expression of their national policy. Each one of them, in its own country, has adapted to the bourgeois regimes, the union bureaucracy and the Stalinists. The Porto Alegre Forum, that International " Fifth and a quarter", is "their" International!

In 1989, the centrist and opportunist currents of the Trotskyist movement -who bowed before Stalinism while the soviet bureaucracy was going into the restorationist camp –exploded in a thousand pieces. Under the weight of great world-historic defeats suffered by the working class with the loss of the workers states at the hands of the capitalist restoration, those currents made a brutal right turn to revisionism and bureaucratic centrism.

But today the revolution in Palestine, Argentine, and the confrontation between revolution and counterrevolution that has become the center of the world stage, under the conditions of stock market crash, economic depression and wars, these currents unmask themselves quickly, and will further explode, have ruptures, crisis and divisions. It is as if they are gasping like fish out of water: nothing of what they write, say and do, has to do with the aspirations, the necessities nor with the combat of the workers and the exploited people. They are exposed by the force of reality: It is not possible to speak in the name of the IVth international, and at the same time to run to put oneself at the feet of the counterrevolutionary International of Porto Alegre!

Today, like yesterday, the principled Trotskyists of the COTP-CI say: Long Live the explosion!, because we know that out of those ruptures and crisis, the lively struggle of tendencies and fractions inside the Trotskyist movement, will come the healthy forces to rebuild the Fourth International. From the Organizing Committee of Principled Trotskyism (Fourth International) and from Workers Democracy, we make an urgent call to oppose this "Fifth and a quarter International" of the treason an to come to gather in an International Conference of Principled Trotskyists. It is necessary to rebuild the Fourth International!

A New Zimmerwald

An International Conference on the lessons and the strategy opposed to the colonial war in Afghanistan, an international campaign for the immediate liberation of the internationalist, anti-imperialist militias imprisoned in Guantanamo, on the lessons and the revolutionary program for the Palestine Revolution, and the revolution that has begun in Argentina. A Conference that raises the fight so that the working class of the United States, the European imperialistic powers and Japan can defeat the AFL-CIO and the reformist union bureaucracies and confront their own imperialistic bourgeoisies, and in this way, unite with the ranks of workers and the oppressed people of the semi-colonies and colonies that today are at the vanguard of the anti-imperialist fight and the world-wide revolution.

In 1914-15, the Second International –Social Democracy- voted for war credits, making the German, French, English and Russian workers kill each other in that slaughter, subordinating them to the interests of their respective imperialistic bourgeoisies. In those black hours for the world-wide working class, a small group of internationalist revolutionaries –Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg, Trotsky, Karl Liebknecht, among other, met in Kienthal and Zimmerwald, confronting the treason of Social Democracy and calling on the workers of the nations at war to turn their guns against their own bourgeoisie and to transform the war into the beginning of the revolution.

It was that handful of internationalists that then applied to the Russian revolution of 1917 the internationalist program of Kienthal and Zimmerwald: to turn the guns against one’s own imperialistic bourgeoisie and to transform the war into socialist revolution, meant in Russia the fight for "All the power to soviets", the insurrection and the seizure of power by the Bolshevik party supported by the armed soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers.

There, in Kienthal and Zimmerwald, was formed the basis of the revolutionary 3rd International that was to soon bring about the triumph of October!

Today, the time has come for the working class of the world to directly oppose revolution to counterrevolution. From COTP-CI and Workers Democracy, we call urgently to make this International Conference the new Kienthal-Zimmerwald where the principled Trotskyists can recognize themselves and regroup, and put up together an international centralized leadership that unifies the combat against the usurpers of Trotskyism, as the way to regenerate and re-found the Fourth International on a principled basis.

A Kienthal and Zimmerwald which makes the Soviet strategy to fight by, so that the working class and the exploited peoples create their organs of direct democracy and dual power, and that in the heat of that fight can form in the different countries, and in Argentina, revolutionary and internationalist workers parties that are able to prepare the insurrection as an art and to take the working class on to victory. Only with such a fight, only with an international leadership of principled Trotskyists, can we advance on that road!


Applying the lessons of history:

Argentina's current crisis hit the headlines over the new year period as the US war against Afghanistan wound down. What had appeared to be a massive victory for the US in its first round of the war against terrorism, became upstaged by the Argentinean masses as they brought down three governments, and four presidents within two weeks. What is going on there? Is this some isolated crisis brought on by local conditions? The national character of a volatile Southern European migrant population? The failure of economic policy? The bourgeois press looks around desperately for explanations that blame Argentina or the mismanagement of international finance by the IMF. What they try to ignore is that what is happening in Argentina is merely one example of a mass rebellion building up against global capitalism. This means that what is happening in Argentina sets the pace for what can happen anywhere as the anti-capitalist mood spreads and mounts against world capitalism.

But just as the victory of the US in Afghanistan consolidated its hegemony as the dominant imperialist power, the revolt in Argentina opened up a weak flank against US imperialism in the heartland of the Empire, Latin America.

The Argentinean revolution has begun and it can either become a victorious workers' revolution as an example for all of us to follow, or it can fail under the combined pressure of local reaction and imperialist intervention. This is why the situation in Argentina is so crucial. Here workers can make history provided they adopt the correct strategy and tactics. But they can also be defeated if they become victim to counter-revolutionary forces.

Revolution and Counter-revolution

To understand the causes of the current crisis is it necessary to know why the workers are rebelling and what it will take to turn a rebellion into a socialist revolution. To do this is it necessary to apply Marxist theory and practice to the situation and to put to the test the competing versions of Marxism, and the various tendencies within the reformist, centrist and revolutionary left. Then, the correct answers to these questions can be formulated in time to create a new vanguard party capable of leading a victorious Argentine revolution. Readers should look to Trotsky’s writings on the Civil War in Spain for invaluable lessons that apply today to Argentina.[see article on Argentina and Anarchism’.]

Argentinean workers are rebelling because imperialism sucks out more and more of their surplus value to fill the coffers of the multinational companies. Marx called this the absolute law of accumulation. As capitalism develops it concentrates wealth at the centre and impoverishes the periphery. Argentina, like most of the former colonial and semi-colonial world has experienced relative impoverishment as its wealth is transferred to the imperialist center. This leaves Argentinean workers relatively poorer and in debt as the country borrows to live and taxes workers to pay back the IMF, the World Bank and other banks.

It is important to recognise that debt is just a symptom of workers borrowing to live. Personal debt becomes combined as the national debt. The need to borrow results from inadequate income in the first place. But it is the bosses who borrow expecting works to pay the debt. This is the effect of the super-exploitation of workers in colonies and semi-colonies where more and more of the value they produce being siphoned off as surplus-value. And when high profits cannot be made any more, production stops, jobs are lost and a growing reserve army of unemployed gets bigger and bigger. As Marx said the fantastic accumulation of wealth at one pole is opposed to the massive misery of the poor at the other pole. This polarisation has grown fantastically worse in the last twenty years.

Globalisation only makes it worse

What today is called 'globalisation' or 'neo-liberalism' is the deliberate policy of imperialism to intensify its super-exploitation of colonies and neo-colonies over the last twenty years. This policy was necessary to try to offset the falling profits that followed the end of the post-war boom. Countries like Argentina and New Zealand benefited from the post-war boom because their economies were protected by tariffs and their main exports were in demand at high prices. Workers real living standards rose during this period also.

But the end of the boom and the onset of a general crisis of capitalism in the early 1970's saw these export markets and prices slump. To offset the balance of payments deficits, more and more money was borrowed increasing the national debt. This forced a change of policy, and Argentina like NZ deregulated its economy and opened up to direct foreign investment. The process of super-exploitation became intensified and spedup under the IMF and World Bank which oversaw the economic reforms ('structural adjustment') and the attacks on workers living standards. The result was dramatically falling living standards, rising debt and loss of jobs.

So the immediate causes of the rebellion of the picqueteros (unemployed) and low paid and unpaid workers, as well as the petty bourgeois whose savings have been confiscated to pay off the debt, is relative impoverishment and immiseration.

This is not some freak event or accident. It is a fundamental fact of capitalist development, and intensified by neo-liberal globalisation over the last two decades. This is why those in rebellion have raised the demands for jobs, wages, savings, etc. Flowing from these demands are those that offer solutions: nonpayment of the external debt, nationalisation of the banks, the re-nationalisation of the privatised companies; the end to corrupt and repressive governments, and opposition to devaluation because it will further reduce living standards.

The bosses’ state

No bourgeois government can meet these demands. Bourgeois governments are committed to defending the rights of capitalist property including the owners of industry and the banks. While they may also be filled by corrupt and incompetent politicians, replacing them with honest and competent ones will not change anything.

This is because the state must serve the capitalist economy by guaranteeing by force the rights of private property and the operation of the market. Any breach of these rights and market mechanisms are in themselves therefore anti-capitalist. So honest and competent politicians are better servants of capitalism than dishonest and incompetent ones.

Because workers do not spontaneously recognise that exploitation takes place at the point of production, they see their exploitation as the result of inequalities that are unjust even in capitalist terms. They therefore look to honest and competent governments that will meet their needs. They will vote for parties that promise they can act in the workers interests. But since nationalisation, nonpayment of debt etc represent an infringement on capitalists property rights, no bosses government can make more than token moves in this direction. When workers find that instead of reforms they get repressed and cheated they ask what other solution is there? While socialism is one solution, fascism is another.

This is the situation that faces workers in Argentina in February 2002. They have brought down 3 governments and 4 presidents who have proven incapable of meeting their demands. Now Duhalde has been 'elected' by the combined parties in the legislature as a President of a government of 'national salvation'. Duhalde is a member of the Peronist party, a former vice President under Menem in the 1980's and the unsuccessful opponent of de la Rua who was elected President in 1999. His ‘election’ is an attempt to revive Peronism’s left credentials with the labour aristocracy and petty bourgeoisie and to head off revolution and to pave the way for fascism.

Semi-Bonaparte Duhalde?

The Argentine ruling class parties have appointed Duhalde with support from the reformist left, in consultation with the US ruling class. His job is to buy time and support from the 'middle class' to isolate and contain opposition to the state in preparation for a full scale attack on rebelling workers. To understand this tactic on the part of the bosses it is necessary to understand several important concepts such as the 'popular front', Bonapartism and fascism.

Because the contradictions and crises of capitalism always polarise the two main classes and mobilise workers as a potential revolutionary force, the bosses try to hide class conflict under the blanket of nationalism. The class that takes a leading role in trying to manage class antagonism within a nationalist framework is the petty bourgeois. Their class interests are to own their own independent property and to become personally wealthy. As capitalism constantly squeezes them downwards into the working class they are antagonistic to workers and see them as the causes of their own economic insecurity or bankruptcy.

The Popular Front

The bosses usually attempt to rig the electoral law to keep majority workers parties out of power. Failing that where workers have won proportional representation they are pushed into coalitions in which petty bourgeois or even bourgeois parties set limits to their programs so that do not challenge capitalist property rights. Any combination of worker parties with petty bourgeois or bourgeois parties is called a popular front. Usually it is also a patriotic front where the class interests of the parties are buried under the concept of the 'national interest'. The role of the popular, patriotic front is to prevent workers parties from becoming independent class parties challenging capitalist property rights.

During economic crises when the petty bourgeois is being squeezed downwards they can become allies of workers struggles since they too are defending their living standards, savings etc. Whether they join in with workers, or turn against workers, depends on which class can promise them the most. One the one hand, workers can promise petty bourgeois salvation by building a revolutionary movement that will replace the anarchic capitalist economy with a planned socialist economy. Even if they won't be petty bourgeois any more at least they will be alive and kicking.

On the other hand, bosses will promise salvation with an economic package which claims to protect the welfare and rights of the petty bourgeois from monopoly capital and monopoly labour. The bosses bribe them to kick the workers. In reality the workers pay for these bribes not the bosses. Thus the petty bourgeois become bureaucratic or paramilitary forces that act in the interests of the property holders. They act for monopoly capital by taking strong measures against 'anarchists' and 'communists'.

Where the attempts to form popular front governments fail it is necessary to create governments that personify the patriotic front in the office of a strong leader usually a President or General. Argentina has a history of such governments and leaders, Peron being the best known. To create a government of 'national salvation' that can manage the crisis in the interests of the bosses by retaining the loyalty of the petty bourgeois requires a strong state.

To be convincing and win mass support this state has to appear to be genuinely class neutral and put limits on both big capital and big labour. This form of state is called a Bonapartist state after the French Napoleon Bonaparte III who ruled France in this manner in the 1830's. Full blown Bonapartism usually results when a minority takes power with the passive support of the majority a so-called coup d etat. Semi-Bonapartism is constitutionally created: Duhalde is a semi-Bonaparte because he was elected to the job by the legislature.

Such a government is necessary because the two main classes are at roughly equal strengths. The Bonapartist policy is to win over the petty bourgeois and tip the scales in favour of the bosses. Duhalde's government has a policy that is designed to do just this; to split the rebellious petty bourgeois from the militant workers and unemployed. And in the process to isolate the workers and prepare for an open counter-revolution or civil war to defeat the revolutionary threat of a socialist revolution.

Defeating Bonapartism

Bonapartism is attractive to the petty bourgeoisie because it offers strong and decisive leadership. Yet under conditions of extreme crisis, default, massive devaluation etc Duhalde's government cannot keep these promises and defend the economic interests of the petty bourgeoisie.

This is why Duhalde is advocating constitutional reform. He knows that the popular rejection of all bourgeois governments is such that only radical reforms will restore any legitimacy to the state. His proposals to reform the Constitution are designed to appeal to the Peronist workers in the unions and the petty bourgeois and split them away from the poor workers and unemployed. By doing this he hopes to isolate and marginalise the main sources of the rebellion and so mobilise support to restore social order by police or military repression.

If these measures fail to win support from the ‘middle class’ (i.e. labour aristocracy, petty bourgeoisie) the question becomes, can Duhalde retain their loyalty by attacking organised labour? Here the question of workers strategy and tactics in response to Bonapartism is of crucial importance.

To win the class war against the bosses, workers must take strong action. Only a revolutionary proletariat can stop Bonapartism and fascism. Therefore this action must not be moderated out of fear of losing the support of the petty bourgeois. The line of least resistance is the most disastrous. The petty bourgeois can only be won over by proving that the workers solution to the crisis is better than the bosses. The way to defeat Bonapartism is not to play dead in the hope that it will go away. This is the same as saying that the class struggle will go away, and that capitalism can live in a state of suspended animation. To refuse to defend workers under attack by Bonapartism, proves to the petty bourgeois that bosses are going to win and they want to be on the winning side.

The Constituent Assembly

One tactic that unfortunately leads to passivity and defeat in the current situation is that of diverting the working class response to Bonapartism into a campaign for a Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly is a special parliament that is called so that all the people can work out the most democratic form of bourgeois government. It is an important demand to mobilise workers to fight for democracy when workers have yet to experience bourgeois democracy. But this is a backward move at a time when the workers are building an offensive that already shows they have few illusions in bourgeois democracy.

The advent of Bonapartism represents a defensive move for capital against a working class offensive that has shown the ruling class to be divided and desperate. That offensive follows decades of the development of a capitalist semi-colony in which the working class is now the huge majority, where capitalist agriculture has largely eliminated the peasantry, and where the petty bourgeoisie has become increasingly disguised wage labour.

Moverover, the 'defensive' struggles of the last decades against military dictatorships and the austerity Peronist governments that followed, show that the current offensive is firmly based upon the working class methods that are based on occupations, blockades, strikes and demonstrations.

Why then, with the bosses forced to resort to a Bonapartist regime should workers turn back from creating workers’ councils (soviets) and generalising strike action? What is the point of the Constituent Assembly?

Like any democratic right, the Constituent Assembly is based on the ideal of bourgeois individual rights. But it is important to defend those rights only insofar as they advance the cause of revolution. The CA is useful in situations where workers or peasants still have illusions in bourgeois democracy as capable of meeting their interests.

In Russia, China and Spain in the early part of the 20th century, the Bolshevik-Leninists used the tactic as a way of bringing peasants and workers who had little or no experience of bourgeois democracy into the struggle for socialism. By calling for the CA. based on the secret ballot for all over the age of 18, a single legislative chamber and combined legislative and executive powers, workers would find that despite such radical 'democracy', their needs for land, bread and peace could not be met.

Today in Argentina where an advanced working class has long experience of democracy and dictatorship and is mobilising in their own proto-soviets and fighting outside parliament it is already clear to the militant minority that no bourgeois 'democracy' is going to meet their needs. The best way to win over the remaining workers to a revolutionary perspective is to prove that independent working class struggle works.

Those who are calling for the CA in Argentina are saying that a CA can take power and win workers what they want. They say that the socialist revolution can be won without overthrowing the bourgeois state They say that the Argentine people can get rid of imperialism and bring about the reforms they need.

On the contrary, the completion of the national democratic revolutionary tasks of independence, cancellation of the debt, nationalisation of the banks most of which are foreign owned, as well as the elementary democratic rights of freedom from imperialist backed military dictatorships, cannot be won short of a socialist revolution.

For a Workers' Government

The correct response to the bosses' Bonapartism must be to intensify to the fullest extent possible, the methods of working class struggle. To take the boldest initiatives and firmest action possible. To build on the organisations and methods that have so far proven successful in forcing the bosses to a Bonapartist solution. To build the Popular Assemblies into working class councils or soviets. To form workers' militia and food distribution committees. To raise a program of demands for the expropriation of the bosses and the creditors, for workers control, for the unlimited general strike, and for a workers' government.

It should be clear that a ‘workers’ government’ is the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is a government that comes to power after taking power and smashing the bosses’ state including its armed forces. A revolutionary program must state what its objective is and how to get there. The limiting of demands to immediate or democratic demands does not point the way forward to socialism and leaves room for the reformists to win support.

To go from the popular assemblies and strike action which spontaneously develop, to soviets and the unlimited general strike which is aimed at the overthrow of the state, is a qualitative leap from bourgeois to socialist consciousness. This leap cannot develop without the intervention of already class conscious workers. Such a development requires a correct program and in turn a revolutionary party. A revolutionary program states what workers need now and shows step by step how to meet these needs by mobilising class struggle. It adapts concrete demands and tactics to concrete situations quickly in response to the changing conditions.

This can only be done by a party that combines theory and practice in the program. Why? Because without such theory and practice there can be no living program capable of applying lessons from the past and testing them in practice. How? This requires a vanguard party and democratic centralism.

A vanguard party by definition is a layer of workers whose understanding of Marxism in theory and practice makes them class conscious and qualifies them to act as a leadership.

Democratic centralism is the method by which the leadership leads. Democracy requires full discussion and debate with all differences allowed and tested. Centralism means unity and discipline in action around the agreed program so that it can be tested in practice. Lack of unity and discipline means that no conclusions can be scientifically drawn about the correctness of a program.

What is the Transitional Program?

Democratic, transitional and socialist demands must all be present as a complete package to allow workers to see the necessary transition from one to the other. For example the CA is a democratic demand and should always be accompanied by transitional demands such as jobs for all, a living wage etc. and by socialist demands such as nationalisation of the banks under workers control.

The necessity for a Workers Government to come to power to make this happen has to be stated from the outset to make it clear that only an independent armed workers movement can resolve the crisis in favour of workers and prevent a counter-revolution from smashing the revolution.

[from Class Struggle 43 February/March 2002