Zimbabwe - Yes to the Tour, Yes to Land Reform

Those on the left such as the Auckland Global Peace and Justice Alliance calling for a boycott of Zimbabwe are lining up, not with the workers and poor farmers of Zimbabwe, but with the governments of the Western powers responsible for much of the misery of Africa, with reactionary local politicians like Don Brash, Winston Peters and Phil Goff, and with the Movement for Democratic Change, an organisation funded by the CIA and dominated by white politicians from the Rhodesia era.

Why Target Mugabe?

This year, Mugabe has displaced 200,000 citizens by destroying their homes - that's 100,000 less than the city of Bombay displaced in a similar operation last year, and 300,000 less than the US-UK displaced when they razed Fallujah last year.

Why has nobody called for the Lions to be banned from NZ, as a consequence of British actions in Iraq? Why aren't Goff and Brash enraged by British or American war crimes? Why have they chosen to focus on Zimbabwe, instead? The reason, of course, is that the hysteria over Zimbabwe is not motivated by any genuine response to oppression and suffering there. When was the last time Goff or Brash or Blair or John Howard cared about such things?

Zimbabwe has been singled out for a variety of reasons, but the most important one is the fact that Mugabe has, in his grotesquely distorted way, attacked the property of capitalists - big farmers, mainly - with long-standing links to Britain and NZ.

Let’s be clear: Mugabe is no friend of workers. He is a nasty national bourgeois who rode the anti-colonial struggle to power by cutting a deal with the British that prevented socialist revolution and real land reform in Zimbabwe, and for many years, through the 80s and most of the 90s, he loyally followed the dictates of the International Monetary Fund. Mugabe has been forced to move to the left and take on imperialist powers like Britain by the strength of Zimbabwean anger against white farmers, the IMF, and the imperialist governments that bleed Africa dry...'

Land Reform?

But GPJA claims that the land reform process in Zimbabwe has no progressive qualities. The land reform process is simply the invention and plaything of Mugabe. In fact, land reform is a long-standing demand which Mugabe has attempted to co-opt and control, in the hope of retaining power. The invasions of the superfarms of the white capitalists - the very people who founded the MDC in the late 90s - involved thousands of ordinary families, as well as Mugabe's state forces and organised supporters.

In all, one hundred and ten thousand square kilometres of land have been seized - that's almost the size of the North Island! Does GPJA's friend really believe that all of this land has been moved into the hands of Mugabe and his cronies, or that all of it could have been seized by Mugabe's weak and inefficient state forces alone?

Thanks to the land reforms, tens of thousands of poor Zimbabweans have received land on which they can grow food and stay alive. For GPJA this seems to be such a trivial fact that it is not worth mentioning, but in a poor African country where land has been locked up for over a hundred years it is anything but trivial. Nor is it trivial to the many Maori activists who identify their own struggle for the return of stolen land with the heroic efforts of the Southern African peoples.

That’s why Mugabe's parody of land reform is very popular in South Africa, where the UK has huge investments and the black population is simmering after a decade of declining living standards caused the maintenance of economic apartheid by a parasitic black elite. In NZ, the ruling class frets about the possibility of a renewed outbreak of Maori occupations, as the 'Treaty process' is shown to be merely a vehicle for the advancement of a handful of Maori capitalists. No wonder that the Maori Party has for all its faults been able to see through the anti-tour hysteria.

Opposition MDC

GPJA reproduces the flawed criticisms of Mugabe coming from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) website. [Discussion Board topic has been taken down]. Anybody who still has illusions in the Movement for Democratic Change as a left-wing party could do worse than visit its website, which features a forum where members brainstorm about policy and strategy.

Here are a couple of charming excerpts from MDC members discussing on land reform:

'There is no sight of recovery in agriculture as long we do not consider property rights...With Mugabe's expropriation of land creates a greater political risk to invest in Zimbabwe similar to the 1970 policies of Chile and Nicaragua where bilateral agreements were broken and the US government had to recover its assets...My uncle is now running a ranch and tobacco farming in Manica province in Mozambique...'

To which another 'comrade' added:
'A commercial farm must be given to a competent commercial farmer. If this means further resettlement so be it.'

In other words, the poor families who have taken over land seized from white capitalists will have to be 'resettled', to make way for the old owners.

Here's another piece of MDC wisdom, from the same thread of discussion:
'In my post I do not mean that whites should be excluded from any re-settlement program. Merit should be balanced with a lot of other issues, eg the fact that some people are landless, and that 'Zim is predominantly an Agric. country and therefore we have to maximise production. This obviously means the commercial land will have to be allocated to the tried and tested commercial farmers, and qualified starters who have real potential to produce, not only for their immediate families, but for export as well.' 

Many of those who marched on The GPJA organised protest were rightly disgusted by the eviction of poor Zimbabweans from their urban homes by the Mugabe government. Yet, as the discussion quoted above and numerous official statements show, the MDC and its Western backers are determined to enforce a far larger eviction, by 'resettling' the poor farming families who have been taking the countryside back from white capitalists!

The sooner the reformist left realises this and stops supporting the MDC the better. Perhaps GPJA and co should read the 2002 Zimbabwe report of Human Rights Watch, an organisation they seem happy to trust in other contexts, which criticises Mugabe but nevertheless states very clearly that:

'Some people from communal areas who genuinely need land to raise themselves out of poverty, as well as some middle class people from urban areas who wish and have the capabilities to enter commercial farming, have been among those who have obtained access to land for the first time.'

In other words, Human Rights Watch can make the distinction between ordinary Zimbabweans fighting for a better life and Mugabe. They know that the struggle for land reform being waged in Zimbabwe is a just struggle, despite the nature of the Mugabe government. Why, then, can't GPJA also grasp this basic fact?

Those who want to oppose Mugabe effectively should stop chasing after a bandwagon being driven by Blair to re-colonise Africa, and instead try to learn something about the history of Zimbabwe, and the legacy of the Lancaster House agreement, which ensured the present crisis by attempting - like the phoney transition in South Africa, and the Treaty 'settlement' process here - to put a black bourgeoisie in charge of an unmodified capitalist economy dominated by a white elite and foreign imperialists.

CWG supports the building of rank and file workers, landless farmers and poor farmers’ councils with a program of:

· land to the tillers;

· nationalisation of the banks without compensation and under workers’ control to provide cheap credit for farmers;

· Workers’ and Farmers’ Government to socialise private property and plan the Zimbabwe economy as part of a Southern African Union of Socialist Republics.

Here's an article ‘From Zimbabwe to Ngawha’ which looks at the situation in Zimbawe in more detail.

From Class Struggle 62 July-August 2005

Elections: Vote Labour Now to Smash Capitalism Later!

It’s election time again. Why should we bother voting for our exploiters to go exploiting us for another 3 years? Unfortunately, in New Zealand workers are not rushing to the barricades to join the communist party and overthrow capitalism. That’s because there is no communist party that intervenes in their daily lives and offers an alternative to parliamentary democracy. Nor are workers rushing to the polls in high hopes of Labour reforming capitalism. Their horizons have been crippled somewhat by 20 years of neo-liberal defeats.

Therefore, once again, Labour is the party that most workers will vote for in the hope that it will defend what is left of the welfare state and reject the future of NZ as an outright US colony. We oppose Labour’s bourgeois program but while workers still see Labour as the party historically linked to unions we will vote tactically for a Labour Government. To do this we have to put socialist demands on Labour to prove that it will always put the bosses’ profits before workers needs, and that only the organization of a mass workers’ movement based on the unions can deliver on these demands by fighting for a Workers’ Government!

Communists do not believe in the bosses elections as a means of winning any significant reforms let alone transforming capitalism, but the vast majority of NZ workers do not yet agree with us. We could say it over an over again, but this would not change anything. Workers would rather vote for a party that has a better chance of defending and extending their historic gains than any socialist pie in the sky. While the economy remains strong and small gains can still be won by this means there is no way that the working class will set out on the long march to overthrow parliament.

Tactically, therefore, communists have to accompany the mass of workers as they once more trudge down the parliamentary road at the same time always pointing out clearly that it’s a dead end. At the same time we have to raise a socialist program to demand answers to what workers need now. That fact that Labour cannot deliver on these demands and will increasingly turn on and attack workers will sooner or later expose them as a bosses’ party.

This may take some time. We know that in countries like Bolivia where the revolutionary workers and peasants are mobilised in the hundreds of thousands, the parliamentary road becomes seen to be a dead end only when it turns the state forces onto the workers making them pay with their dead. New Zealand is still some way from such a revolutionary situation.

It pretty obvious to most workers that right now Labour meets the immediate needs of workers better than National. Yes, Labour turned from being a party that protected NZ manufacturers before 1984 to one that forced them to compete internationally after 1984. This cost many jobs and much misery. But for all the neo-liberal reforms of 1984-1990 Labour did not take an axe to the welfare state or to the unions. Its role is to manage capitalism by disciplining the working class on behalf of capital. It does this by subsidizing a skilled labour force that can produce rising levels of surplus-value, and empowering the unions to bureaucratically control that labour force.

When National came into office in 1990 it introduced sweeping changes to industrial relations (Employment Contracts Act) that virtually smashed the unions. Membership dropped from around 50% to around 15% and workers rights were attacked wholesale. Along with this, within a couple of weeks of being elected Ruth Richardson slashed welfare benefits and superannuation and ensured that a whole new generation was born into levels of hardship and poverty not heard of since the 1930s.

National’s full frontal attack on workers between 1993 and 1999 was held back by its dependence on a slim majority from 1993 and coalition partners NZ First and others after 1996. In other words National could not muster a majority of votes to complete its new right agenda by 1999. What appears to be attracting many people back to National in 2005 is National’s stealing of ACT’s clothes to finish the new right agenda with tax cuts and the privatisation of health and education via bulk funding.

Moreover, while Labour has kept most of the new right economic reforms intact (low inflation, low taxation, social spending in check etc) the key areas of the welfare state, health, education and housing have been defended and unions have been made ‘stakeholders’ again alongside business and government. By comparison with Labour’s funding of superannuation and scrapping of interest on student loans, National’s return to tax and spending cuts, work-for-the-dole and union bashing, makes Labour look almost ‘socialist’.

But most telling, Brash has made it clear that National will return to the foreign policy of the 1960s and 1970s when Holyoake backed the US war in Vietnam. While Labour would have fought a UN-sponsored war in Iraq, Brash would have sent in NZ troops alongside Bush, Blair and Howard etc. Furthermore, Labour stakes its whole liberal reputation on keeping the nuclear ban in place, but Brash will get rid of it “by lunchtime”.

Labour has kept its distance from the US and has paid the price by losing a free trade agreement. Yet Lockwood Smith wants NZ in lockstep with Uncle Sam for a few cents more on the price of beef. Labour has largely gone along with the ‘war on terror’, sending troops to Afghanistan and frigates to the Gulf. It has jumped to impose ‘anti-terror’ legislation at home, but it still opens its borders to large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers. National would march with Bush, Blair and Howard to Guantanamo and back. And if it forms a coalition with NZ First it will be expelling Muslims by morning prayers.

That’s the stark choice facing workers; a government that creates profits for US imperialism by subsidizing workers’ productivity, or a government that uses workers as cannon fodder for US imperialism? Voting Labour against National in this election is to keep in power a party that believes it can exploit workers better by enlisting their support and not killing them without UN approval, as opposed to another party that like Bush, Blair and Howard thinks that the best way to exploit workers it to treat them as greedy individuals or collateral damage.

Yet workers don’t yet see that the Labour alternative is social imperialist. It pays for welfare at home by backing imperialism abroad. They share Labour’s illusions in the UN as a multilateral world community that is capable of replacing naked Anglo/Yankee imperialist terror. Right now they will vote Labour to stop Brash from sending their children to Yankee wars. We support them tactically to prove in practice that Labour’s ‘human rights’ imperialism is a ‘soft cop’ version of Bush and Brash’s ‘tough cop’ military imperialism.

National may need the help of NZ First to form a government. Would NZ First have moderating effect as it did in 1996? No! In no way should workers vote NZ First in the hope that it will back Labour or put limits on National. Peter’s scurrilous attack on Muslims under the cover of ‘terrorism’ is a thinly veiled appeal to racism and much more virulent than that against Asians because the ‘war on terror’ labels radical Islam as the new threat to civilisation.

NZ First is likely to pursue a more right wing agenda than last time when they showed they were no friend to workers. Indeed, some of them turned out to be even more in National’s pocket than their leader. Ex-union official Tau Henare and others left New Zealand First to help prop up the National Government when the bulk of the New Zealand First caucus decided it was no longer in their political interests to stay in bed with National. Today Henare is a full-blown member of the National party, standing as a list candidate.

A Labour government may need the backing of the Greens. They are a party which often appeals to more “progressive” voters. Commentator Chris Trotter said that the New Zealand Greens are probably the most left-wing Green party in the world that has made it into political office. On the face of it there seems to be some truth in this with people like ex-Socialist Action League member Keith Locke and ex-Workers Communist League member Sue Bradford. Young people in particular, are often attracted to the Greens Environmental approach and pro-cannabis platform.

Some left parties such as the Socialist Workers organization encourage people to vote for the Greens seeing them as a progressive voice. We do not see the Greens as progressive in the slightest. While they get workers’ support they divert them from voting Labour and putting demands on it in office, and from organising a labour movement independently of parliament.

While the Greens have supported Labour on some important issues for workers it is important to always remember it is a petty-bourgeoisie party which does not have its base in the working class. Its interests are not ultimately that of workers but with ‘democratic’ national capitalists. It opposes free trade agreements to defend jobs at home by opposing jobs in free trade zones unless ‘democratic’ capitalists legislate for labour rights. It opposes Mugabe’s neo-colonial regime in Zimbabwe by backing Bush and Blair’s hypocritical policy of sanctions. It also adopts an anti-science position on GE and nuclear power because it believes that capitalism can be managed to sustain the environment. For all these reasons we do not advocate that workers vote for Green candidates or the Green Party as this takes votes away from Labour.

The Alliance has moved left to form a small democratic socialist party since the split over Afghanistan when Anderton and Robson went off to form the “Progressive Party”. The Alliance should have liquidated itself back into the Labour Party in 1993 when it was obvious that workers were prepared to back Labour again against National’s new right attacks. Its survival as a separate party says more about Jim Anderton’s ego and the machinations and ambitions of his lieutenant Matt McCarten wheeler dealing in parliament. Today Anderton has renamed his party “Anderton’s Progressive Party” like a brand of snake oil. McCarten “went off” to the Maori Party and then to Workers’ Charter.

All of these currents are oriented to parliament but are engaged in bitter infighting so that they are thankfully largely irrelevant to the main contest between National and Labour. We do not advocate a vote to the Alliance, Progressive or any other ‘left’ party on the basis of this or that supposed ‘workers’ program since that only diverts and delays workers from breaking with Labour and parliament. This is also the problem with the Maori Party as it is hoping to use the ‘balance of power’ to pressure a Labour or National government.

The Maori party will obviously appeal to many Maori disillusioned with the Labour Party’s approach to Maori issues, particularly over the Seabed and Foreshore issue. We took a strong position against Labour’s legislation on the Seabed and Foreshore, calling for occupations that could be backed by both Maori and non-Maori workers. But we didn’t support the formation of the Maori Party. We characterised it as a cross class party that splits the labour movement and draws Maori workers in behind petty bourgeois leaders whose program is for Maori to vote as a bloc to reform capitalism rather than mobilise workers for land, foreshore or industry occupations. The Maori Party may continue Turia’s voting record for Labour on some things and National on others consistent with its kaupapa of Maori petty-capitalism first, workers second. We do not advocate votes for Maori Party Candidates or the Maori Party.

As communists we harbour no illusions that Labour can deliver socialism for workers but it is important to give it tactical support while most workers see their policies as able to meet the interests of their class. In tactically supporting Labour we recognize all their failings and see it for what it is, a right wing social democratic bosses’ party which manages capitalism to the greatest extent it possibly can by keeping the labour movement on the parliamentary road. The parliamentary road is not the road to socialism but it cannot be boycotted until an independent workers movement and a revolutionary party is built capable of ultimately challenging parliamentary rule and that of the capitalist ruling class.


· Jobs for all on a living wage – 35 hour week! 24 hour free child care!

· Tax the Rich; Tax Capital Gains!

· Open the borders to worker migrants!

· Re-nationalise Rail, Telecom, etc with no compensation and under workers’ control!

· Troops out of Afghanistan!

· For a Workers’ Government!

From Class Struggle 62, July-August 2005

What’s wrong with youth rates?

We reprint a leaflet produced by Radical Youth on Youth Rates. While the leaflet points to the oppression of youth implicit in youth rates, it doesn’t go beyond a reformist analysis of capitalism in Aotearoa. Low wages are not the source of exploitation, the expropriation of surplus value from wage labour by capital is. Eliminating youth rates will not end the exploitation of wage labour. Class Struggle supports Radical Youth’s call for the unionizing of youth and unity between youth and adult workers. Young people in unions must be able to caucus as youth. We work for the building of fighting, democratic unions that become ‘schools for revolution’.
Youth rates suck for young people. In New Zealand, 16-17 year olds can be legally paid $7.60 an hour ($304 for a working week, 80% of adult minimum wage) for the same work as an 18 year old. Under-16-year- olds can be paid whatever the employer decides.

Paying young people a lower wage for equal work is discrimination pure and simple. The issue of youth rates is similar to that of pay parity for women with men. In both cases, a member of a social grouping is discriminated against in the workplace because they are a member of that social grouping. Young people are paid less simply because they are not deemed ‘adults’ by the government and employers.

A 2004 income survey put the average wage for full-time 15-19 year olds at $9.50 with 20-24 year olds expected to earn $12.70. This indicates a massive pay disparity based on age, largely a result of youth rates. We do the same work in the

Youth rates contribute to New Zealand’s growing poverty

Youth rates exacerbate youth poverty and the poverty of all workers in New Zealand. A recent University of Otago study that interviewed young people revealed many youth wanted more money for their families to meet basic house expenses like rent and food bills. This is no surprise with 3 out of 10 New Zealand youth living in poverty (at a conservative estimate). The young people said youth wages were too low, especially for those who needed to earn to supplement the family income or pay for their own clothes and education. A decent wage for youth would help raise families out of poverty and the need to borrow for necessities such as food and water.

The wave of economic reform begun in the 80s has only exacerbated structural problems in the New Zealand economy, increasing the exploitation of low wage workers, of which youth form a significant component. The median annual income of young people (15-24 years) plummeted from $14,700 to $8,100 over the ten-year period between 1986 and 1996.

The result of ‘Rogernomics’ (Privatisation, union-busting, attack on wages and benefits) has been that the rich have got richer and the poor poorer. 45% of families, many with 2 adults and young people working, now rely on some kind of government assistance to reinforce low incomes. This indicates that wage levels across the board for New Zealand workers are set far too low, with yearly wage increases not even keeping pace with inflation. We are getting poorer and life is harder because they are paying us less.

Youth rates suck for all workers

The discrimination faced by youth in the workplace is a deliberate strategy of business to divide employees and drive down wages across the board. Youth rates encourage a low wage climate by setting wage standards lower than is deemed socially acceptable for adults. Employers often employ youth instead of adult workers as they are easier to boss around, have little knowledge of their rights, are not unionised and can be paid youth rates.

Youth actually lose out in this situation as well, as the children of the adult worker will be worse off due to the loss of potential income. These children will then be forced to look for work themselves to support the family. Thus patterns of exploitative youth employment and a low wage environment are perpetuated. At the 2001 Census 37% of 15 to 19 year-olds were employed as service and sales workers, a sector notorious for experimenting with new forms of low-wage and casualised labour. The youth economy is a fundamental battleground for all workers, as the shit they pull on the young today is the shit they pull on adults in the future.

What’s the alternative?

The only response to a low-wage, exploitative work environment is struggle. We must demand living wages for all workers, regardless of age. Youth rates must be abolished immediately, with minimum wage and benefits raised considerably for all New Zealanders. Let the rich foot the bill. 5% wage increases are not enough to reverse the poverty created by 15 years of the Rogernomic’s offensive. Workers are already demanding more, now we need action to translate demands into success.

The fight has two faces – against the employers and the government that protects them. Neither National or Labour have any love for the youth and workers of this country. Young people and adults can not allow themselves to be turned against each other, but must see each-other as important allies in a fight to guarantee an end to poverty and exploitation in New Zealand.

From Class Struggle 62 July-August 2005

Baghdad Comes to London

Comrades of the CWG like most people in the world were forced to confront their political roots and take a position on the London bombings of July 7. Our horror at the bombings was quickly replaced by disgust at the craven British left that ducked for cover behind the Bush/Blair line that these bombings had nothing to do with Iraq or 'imperialism', at least not directly. The London bombings were Baghdad for a day. Blair had brought the war home. And we responded like Madrid workers to the Madrid bombings with the cry "your bombs, our dead" as an indictment of Blair backing Bush. While the suicide bombers were influenced by radical Islamist politics, for us this was the direct result of the failure of the revolutionaries in the imperialist countries to stop the invasions and the occupations, and the conditions of outrage and despair that generate such reactions. While we reject these methods as a means of smashing imperialism, in no way do we condemn suicide bombers for being driven to such methods by imperialism.

To condemn or not to condemn?

In its official statement the day after the London bombings the Communist Party of Great Britain hysterically condemns the bombings as ‘indefensible’, ‘reactionary anti-capitalism’, ‘inhuman’ and ‘anti-capitalist barbarism’.

“The July 7 terror attacks on London are indefensible. They were designed to maximise carnage. Communists unhesitatingly condemn those who planted and detonated the four bombs which killed more than 50 people and injured over 700 others. This was a deeply inhuman act. Reactionary anti-capitalism is no ally of the working class. It is antithetical to democracy, socialism and basic human values. It is itself a manifestation of capitalist barbarism.

These bombs will do nothing - not a thing - to hold back, weaken or divert the rulers of the G8. On the contrary their meeting at Glen-eagles was given a tremendous propaganda boost. George W Bush, Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin - terrorists on a grand scale in Afghanistan, Iraq and Chechnya - eagerly paraded their so-called humanitarian and peace-loving credentials before the world's media.

Those who died, those who were injured, were ordinary working class Londoner –the very sort of people who on February 15 2003 rallied in huge numbers - two million of them - to demonstrate their opposition to the pending imperialist war against Iraq. July 7 was an attack on them. Not the warmongers and their obsolete system. What the bombers have done is strike a blow against the anti-war and democratic movement in Britain. Their action certainly plays straight into the hands of Tony Blair and the New Labour government .Blair will cynically use the bombs. He will beat the patriotic drum. He will strive to cement national unity in the 'war against terrorism'. He will use the attacks to justify the continuation of Britain’s junior role in the occupation of Iraq. He will insist that the case for the introduction of ID cards, more surveillance, further police powers, detention without trial and effectively turning Britain into a giant open prison is now unanswerable.

In another lengthy lesson on why communists should condemn the bombings the Socialist Workers’ Party is taken to task for being two-faced.

'On the left the last week has seen an argument between comrades from the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Socialist Workers Party about terrorism. This argument was sparked by the fact that, while Respect, the Stop the War Coalition and Muslim Association of Britain promptly condemned the London bombings, the SWP itself, once again, did not issue an outright condemnation, presumably because it is unwilling to appear to side with the oppressor and with the “real terrorists”, Bush and Blair.

The SWP is being pulled two ways and is clearly in the process of falling into complete incoherence. Its comrades have, either by accident or design, a Janus-like ability to speak with two voices and display two faces. One face, the one they want to show the public, is reformist and respectable: that is the one that in the name of Respect and the STWC condemns the bombings.

However, it fools no one, except perhaps those who want to be fooled. Because the other SWP face, the one they want to show each other, is stony-hard and full of puffed-up pride, talking in terms of an ‘anti-imperialist’ unity and ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. Just as it did over 9/11, Bali and Madrid, this face does not condemn: it forgives, and says that the 50 deaths and 700 injuries were all the fault of Bush and Blair, and that anyway the term ‘terrorism’ has become meaningless.' 

We don't know precisely what motivated the SWP not to condemn the bombings, not do we vouch for its politics in any way. But the CPGBs understanding of anti-imperialism is deficient. To refuse to condemn the bombings as 'anti-imperialist' does not make the radical Islamics the 'friend' of the workers. It is necessary to reject the methods of the Islamic terrorists and yet NOT condemn them precisely because they use a particular 'means' directed against capitalism in the form of imperialism.

The CPGB talks of ‘capitalism’ and ‘anti-capitalism’ abstractly and timelessly and then equates the means used by both sides on the same scale.

But the ends of capitalism and anti-capitalism are very different. One is barbarism, the other is socialism. The means used towards these opposite ends cannot be equated on the same moral scale. There are 'their' morals, and 'our' morals. To understand why morality is class based so that the same means to different ends cannot be equated, read Trotsky's Their Morals and Ours.

Right to national self-determination

The problem with the CPGB is that it doesn’t understand the right of nations to self-determination, and the obligation on the part of workers in imperialist countries to unconditionally fight for this right.

Since the end of the 19th century, capitalism in the form of imperialist invasion, war and re-colonisation, is the concrete expression of the capitalist class enemy. These forms of oppression are ‘barbaric’ and are to be condemned by communists unequivocally. They have no redeeming features; they do not defend democracy, human rights, social development; they have no ‘humanity’ (as a progressive historical social form) whatsoever. The first duty of communists is to turn imperialist wars into class wars and overthrow the imperialist states.

Anti-imperialist resistance is the fight of the oppressed workers and peasants (and also elements of the national bourgeoisie) for their national right to self-determination. The reason that anti-imperialists use methods that can be labelled individual terror is that these are forced on them by the overwhelming military dominance of imperialism. In the film 'The Battle of Algiers' a French colonel complained of the terrorist bombs used by the resistance. An imprisoned FLN leader replied: “you give us your planes and we will give you our homemade bombs”.

Nor are feudal or bourgeois class forces engaged in the national struggle a reason to impose conditions. Trotsky called for support for Haile Sellasie against fascist Italy in 1935. Today radical Islam draws its support from various national bourgeois or petty bourgeois fractions, clerical and secular. It is necessary to fight alongside these anti-imperialist currents with the purpose of winning over the masses from their reactionary banners to the banner of proletarian leadership of the anti-imperialist struggle.

The CPGB and other ‘leftists’ in the imperialists countries who have NOT fought against and stopped imperialist oppression by their own class struggle methods are in no position to impose ANY conditions on the methods used by, or the class composition of, the anti-imperialist resistance. Instead of moaning that Blair will be boosted by the bombs, they should fight for the independent, armed organisation of the international proletariat as the only political force capable of defeating imperialism and its national allies. Their first duty is to do this at home!

‘Lets join to fight the ‘common criminals!’

In a naked twist of logic that support’s Blair’s claim that the bombers were ‘common criminals’, Brendan O’Neill of Spiked Online claims that the bombers were not anti-imperialist fighters but British youth alienated from British capitalism. (After 21/7: still hiding behind the terrorists: By continuing to link the attacks in London with the war in Iraq, anti-war activists are conferring authority on the bombers.)

“To the extent that Iraq was a likely factor in the events of 7/7 and 21/7, it is not that the bombers were making a political strike against the heart of the imperialist beast that attacked Iraq. Rather, it seems more likely that they were influenced by a self-loathing about Iraq that has its roots firmly in British society. That would explain why this apparently 'anti-imperialist' strike involved British citizens planting bombs in the British capital: these acts have their origins, it would seem, in deep moral and political uncertainty and severe self-doubt here at home, rather than in wars of intervention abroad. The upper echelons of British society have partaken in some serious self-flagellation over Iraq, while continuously fretting that some nutter would attack us for our awful deeds. And then we got 7/7 and 21/7.

But more to the point, and to repeat: Even if one of the failed 21/7 bombers now claims that he was politically motivated by the war in Iraq, and even if it transpires that all of the other 7/7 and 21/7 bombers were similarly motivated, so what? Why should that become the focus of the argument for those who want British forces to withdraw from Iraq? Writing in yesterday's London Evening Standard, professor of defence studies Michael Clarke said, 'one of the suspected Tube bombers claims he acted because of Iraq….is it time to pull out?' (8) Why, because some failed bomber whose nickname is 'Bambi' and his mates didn't like the war? On that basis you could argue that a reasonable response to the Charles Manson murders in late-1960s America would have been to allow Manson to join the Beach Boys - apparently, one of his many murderous motivations was that he didn't make it into that band.”

This crude working class psychodrama takes away the political rights of workers in Britain to make an ‘anti-imperialist strike against the heart of the imperialist beast’. Of course, they are just ‘common criminals’ likened to mass murderer Charles Manson. Why should Blair pull out of Iraq when faced with an upsurge of crime at home? He couldn’t have put it better himself. And anyway says Spiked Online, it’s not good enough for the ‘left’ to oppose the war in Iraq merely because of the threats of bombs at home.

Pointing to the bombings and failed bombings in London as an argument against the war in Iraq is a way of avoiding having the hard debate we need. In place of an argument against Western interventionism, and against the right of powerful states to override the sovereign rights of less powerful states, we get this alternative: 'If we don't stop launching wars, they're gonna come over here and bomb us!' Rather than challenging the politics of fear - which both Bush and Blair deployed to win support for the war on Iraq, with their fantastic tales of Saddam's WMD that threatened civilisation as we know it - anti-war activists and writers embrace it and try to turn it to their advantage. They are, in effect, morally blackmailing us into being anti-war, trying to scare us into opposing the war in Iraq: when the left-leaning New Statesman published a picture of a ticking rucksack on its front cover next to the words 'BLAIR'S BOMBS', it was almost a threat: Oppose this war, or else….

Who wants to die for a bosses’ war?

So we can’t oppose the war on the basis of irrational and groundless fear of terror. First we have to ‘debate’ why powerful states most not invade other ‘sovereign’ states. It hasn’t occurred to these patronising petty bourgeois intellectuals of Spiked Online (what do they put in their drinks?) that the vast majority of people don’t want to die for oil in Iraq. That is the problem, they don’t want to die for a bosses’ war or to stop it either. Either way, the war is already held by the big majority to be unjust, and what’s more the suicide bombers and their victims are increasingly seen as innocents dying together because of Bush and Blair’s war in Baghdad and London.

The fact that more than 50 working class Londoners died is to be regretted not just because they were innocent; more importantly, because the British working class did not defeat imperialism at home. In the same way the children who died some days later in Iraq while surrounding US soldiers handing out sweets is to be regretted. Not just because the bomber hit the children instead of the military target. Rather because as yet the insurgency in Iraq is weak, and the anti-war movement in the US and UK has yet to make it impossible for the troops to stay in Iraq.

Nor can it be argued that because the London bombings will be used as a pretext by Bush and Blair to justify and intensify their ‘war on terror’ this is a reason to condemn the bombings. This endorses Bush and Blair shifting the blame from imperialism to the methods of the anti-imperialists. If this bombing is capable of strengthening Blair and ‘striking a blow against the anti-war and democratic movement in Britain’ that is only because this movement is committed to parliamentarism and pacifism and imposes the same standards on the anti-imperialist fighters.

Part of the problem is that the Western left has swallowed the ideology of Bush and Blair’s ‘war on terror’. Even though it claims that Bush and Blair are the ‘real’ terrorists, terrorism itself becomes a matter of degree not kind. By equating imperialist and anti-imperialist terror on the same scale of ‘humanity’ the pacifist left ignores the qualitative difference between terror used to systematically oppress, and terror used to resist oppression.

We should abandon Bush and Blair’s language of terrorism and reject the term outright. Terror is a method of warfare; war itself is an extension of politics; and politics is an extension of economics. There is a difference in kind between imperialist terror to bomb and destroy whole countries, to arrest and imprison without rights any ‘terrorist’ etc. and on the other hand, the methods of the suicide bombers or resistance fighters, opposing imperialism.

To say that Blair’s war and the attack on democracy at home will be strengthened by this bombing is the same old copout of the British left over the Irish national struggle. As Marx, Lenin and Trotsky always said, the British workers will never aid Irish freedom while they do not fight to overthrow the British imperialist state.

But to do this will mean first freeing itself from the social imperialist agenda of pacifism and taking up class war methods of fighting imperialism. Only such methods can strengthen the hand of the resistance fighters ensuring that the organized working class takes over the leadership of the anti-imperialist struggle from the various fractions of the national bourgeoisie. And by fighting for the defeat of our own imperialist bourgeoisies we can create a powerful working class opposition to imperialist war that will fill the political vacuum now taken up by the radical Islamists and their terrorist methods.

From Class Struggle 62 July August 2005