Burn the National Flag!

In this issue we confront head on the bankrupt politics of the ‘red-green’ left in NZ. We think that on the range of issues that matter today the left is retreating to a reactionary nationalism. In the last issue we welcomed Rabon Kan’s scathing reaction to the new immigration regulations shutting the door on Asians and the left's complicity in this. We challenged the Seafarers cabotage policy that protects NZ jobs from foreign workers.

This month we take this analysis further. We show not only is the Alliance backing cabotage, but also in a significant rightward move, so is the biggest ‘far-left’ party, the Socialist Workers. We also tackle the critical issue of the Foreshore and put our class line on this question. This F&S question has released a gigantic wave of racism against Maori that sees Winston Peters –the Pauline Hanson of NZ –rapidly rising in the polls. Hanson’s jailing in Australia recently has shown that her once extreme brand of racism is now becoming respectable.

Journalist Paul Holmes gaff calling Kofi Annan a “cheeky darkie” and keeping his state funded job shows just how respectable racism has become in New Zealand. Like immigration, the Foreshore issue is revving up racism in NZ. But what makes it respectable is the politics of the social democrat Alliance and their intellectuals allies like ARENA who sow illusions in kiwi workers joining with their bosses to return to economic protectionism. Rallying to the national flag divides workers and puts us on the slippery slope to racial conflict and ‘national socialism’ that will make Rob Muldoon’s fortress NZ and racist Springbok Tour provocation of the early 1980s look like the Noddy Horror Show. 

When kiwi workers look to their weak capitalist governments to protect their jobs, their country and their foreshore from the aliens inside and outside the country we know we are heading for dark days. Workers who can’t see themselves as a class able to fight for their jobs by joining forces with foreign workers, are also incapable of giving support to the national rights of Maori to control over resources never formally stripped from them. Rather they back a weak national bourgeois government that has no interest in protecting NZ capitalism and is the open agent of imperialism, making NZ workers pay for imperialist profits. 

NZ is a client state of US imperialism and effectively a poor ‘7th state’ of Australia. Grovelling before this parasitic kiwi client state is a mark of a labour movement that is already defeated. While kiwi workers are engaged in a diversionary fight to defend the beachhead from the alien invasion, global capitalism rips out jobs and resources in land, sea, forestry and industry and smashes the unions in the process. It backs Bush’s war on terrorism to send kiwi soldiers to oppress Iraqis and Solomon Islanders and passes legislation to secretly charge and jail Ahmed Zaoui. It is unable to fight back against Labour’s Job Jolt attack on beneficiaries which is nothing more than an attempt to force them into the labour market to lower wage costs and boost imperialist super-profits. Or the ‘work-life balance’ plan to allow the bosses to tap into the fluid labour pool on their, not workers, terms.

But why do workers’ fall for this? In a series of articles we have run on the World Social Forum which we continue in this issue, we go to the root of the problem. The weakness of the working class is not because it is less exploited today or less capable of fighting back. It is the petty bourgeois reformist leadership in the unions, in politics, the media and the universities that conspire to keep them powerless. Trying to escape the working class, this caste of bureaucrats gains financially from managing workers on behalf of the bosses. But the only way they can prevent militant workers from kicking them out is to pretend to be doing it in the name of ‘market socialism’. They stake their credibility on identifying with populist governments like Lula’s in Brazil or Chavez’ in Venezuela, ‘socialist’ regimes like Cuba, or liberation movements like Colombia or Nepal, or their record as Trade Union organizers or as ‘anti-capitalists’. 

But their version of socialism is no more than a reformed capitalism. As we argue in this issue, the world-wide reactionary role of the World Social Forum (and its NZ spin-off Socialist Forum Aotearoa) is rooted in the special interests of privileged bureaucrats who ultimately serve imperialism. They make use of the radical posturing of celebrity intellectuals like Chomsky, Klein, Monbiot, Hardt and Negri etc. and their critique of ‘market’ capitalism (i.e. the uncontrolled market) to trap workers struggles everywhere in alliances with the bosses. We hope to convince all those who have any illusions ‘green left’ politics or in the WSF that this project of transforming ‘market capitalism’ into ‘market socialism’ is futile and destructive. We invite them to join us in fighting for a working class solution to jobs, welfare, the foreshore and trade. We invite them to become revolutionary communists.

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