On July 4, we reprinted an article from the site of the International Socialist Organisation, in which Wellington ISO member and long-time socialist and union activist Martin Gregory wrote a powerful critique of the ISO national committee statement endorsing the Mana Movement’s electoral lash-up with super-rich pirate capitalist Kim Dotcom and his Internet Party (for Martin’s critique, see here). While Martin’s critique contained much that we would agree with, its weaker side was that it counterposed ‘critical support’ for Labour, one of NZ capital’s two main parties, to the ISO leadership endorsement of the Mana-Internet Party multi-million dollar lash-up.
The ISO debate continued on facebook, hardly the best place for this to occur. It would have been better if ISO opened up its site for comments and restricted the comments to serious political discussion among serious political people. We offered Redline as a site for discussion and some activists took this up although, sadly, no comrades from ISO joined in the discussion there.
Last month the ISO site put up a further contribution to the discussion, this time by Shomi Yoon, a longtime ISO member who is also a member of the ISO national committee. We welcome Shomi’s article as it reaffirmed the importance of class politics as opposed to inter-class alliances, thus reinforcing the key element of Martin Gregory’s critique of the NC position.
Shomi’s article is also welcome because it avoided the weaker side of Martin’s critique, ie it contained nothing about support for Labour.
On the weaker side, it still presents an ISO view of Key and National which is flawed. We have argued against the dominant far-left view of Key over and over throughout the period since he became leader of National and, especially, since the 2008 National election victory. We think our view has been confirmed by the actual record of the Key-English government.
Below is Shomi’s article; we welcome discussion, including from ISO members.
- Philip Ferguson
We Need Independent Class Politics, Not Cross-class Alliances
by Shomi Yoon (August 21, 2014)
The latest polls show National in a comfortable lead with Labour trailing woefully behind. If the polls remain where they are, we’ll have to brace ourselves for another three years of a National-led government. John Key remains streets ahead of Labour’s David Cunliffe as preferred prime minister. We live in paradoxical times. For many child poverty and inequality remain key issues – issues that the National Party has an appalling record on.
The Government has waged ideological war on families on the benefit, like taking punitive measures against women on the DPB. It has shown scant concern for the growing homeless in Christchurch while pouring billions into a reconstruction plan that will little help those in need. For workers, National’s changes to the employment law leaves vulnerable workers even more vulnerable. And students have had their allowance stripped if they want to continue postgraduate studies in an ever-increasing competitive job market.
Issue after issue National has chipped away at entitlements that people have fought for and won. They have been able to weather significant storms like the selling of state assets, corruption scandals and the ongoing Christchurch rebuild debacle just to name a few. And yet they remain popular. Why this paradox?
We in the International Socialist Organisation have argued that the support for National is surface at best. Behind each issue there is simmering resentment towards National’s policies.
The problem is that there is no real outlet for this resentment. The Labour Party, which should be the opposition, is no opposition at all. Despite myriad issues from the GCSB’s illegal spying to the selling of state assets – they have not been able to take a lead. On several key issues from raising the retirement age to using the race card against foreign ownership, Labour have tried to outdo the National Party from the right.
This time last year, thousands of workers around the country protested against National’s changes to the employment law. This just goes to show that when an organization like the CTU, with real roots in the class takes a lead on an issue, people will mobilize to oppose National’s agenda.
David Cunliffe had the insight to tack left in his leadership bid. He hinted at “socialist” credentials and was backed by the unions and wider membership. But he has not developed this insight into a fighting programme; once leader, he reverted to type. He’s just as out of touch Read the rest of this entry »