by Phil Duncan

In 2014, most of us at Redline favoured not voting in the New Zealand general election.  There was simply no party that represented the interests of workers, much less that attempted to politicise and organise workers to represent themselves.

Labour and National are the twin parties of capital in this country and a vote for either is a vote for capitalism.

The other parliamentary parties represent variants that still ‘play the game’.

Mana might have been worth considering in 2014 but the lash-up with pirate capitalist Kim Dotcom and giving the presidency of InternetMana to Laila Harre. who had not long before taken a job which meant she oversaw the laying off of a swathe of workers in Auckland. put that party beyond the pale.

This year Mana is in an alliance with the Maori Party, a political vehicle of Maori capitalist interests.

Another issue to take into account is that a majority of young people, along with a high percentage of the poorest sections of the working class, no longer vote in bourgeois elections.  Voting doesn’t ‘connect’ with people open to ideas for fundamental social change – it ignores them.  Indeed, it could be argued that it tries to take them a step backward into bourgeois politics, as represented by the parliamentary charade.

In 2017, then, the situation is the same as in 2014 – indeed, even more so.

In 2014, we were only able to propadandise through this site for a non-vote.  This year, we are in a position to do a bit more, especially if we start organising now.

The ‘bit more’ could be a campaign around the 2017 elections that makes the positive case for not voting, that points to the interchangeable role of Labour and National as the parties of the exploiting class, and that argues the case for a new movement of workers, by workers, for workers.  An anti-capitalist workers’ movement.

In the absence of motion within the working class – most workers presently seem willing to be beaten down by the system – such a campaign can only be quite limited.  There is simply no sizeable pool of working class activists to put flesh on such a campaign.

But that doesn’t mean nothing can be done.  There is a small core of anti-capitalist activists: in other words, people who are totally opposed to the capitalist system and understand that the system can only be fought in the context of class politics and not identity politics.  And who understand that the parliamentary circus is there to distract us from the real power relations in the country.

The real struggle is not between National and Labour for government; the real struggle is between the working class and the capitalist class (and the parties which, like Labour and National) represent those interests.  The real struggle is for real democracy – democratic control over all the things that affect the quality of our lives, most particularly control over the means of producing, distributing and exchanging the things we need to make the best lives possible.

Also of particular importance is promoting consciousness that the working class is global.  That means promoting internationalism: opposing ‘kiwi nationalism’ (including in its liberal and left variants), supporting the right of workers to move country and live and work wherever they choose, and showing solidarity with the oppressed masses of the Third World, our class sisters and brothers.

We need to start discussing now how to draw genuine anti-capitalist (class struggle) activists together and making plans for a small but bold campaign to counterpose anti-capitalist organising to voting for one or other of the parliamentary cretinist parties.

‘Don’t vote – organise’, ‘Don’t vote for the system that screws you over’, ‘Against the parliamentary self-seekers; for workers’ power’ and similar ideas could form the core political content of such a campaign.  We could produce an imaginative website, organise a facebook presence, but our chief orientation should be to engage with workers directly – leafleting workplaces and shopping centres and markets in working class areas, leafleting union meetings and so on.

The first steps could be establishing an e-list or closed facebook page and holding a conference of anti-capitalists.  Such a conference should not be a ‘broad’ and ‘all-in’ conference.  Most of us who have been around for any length of time are simply not interested in wasting valuable time arguing with the identity politics liberals who think their regurgitation of the capitalist ideology of ‘difference’ is ‘radical’.

It would be a conference for class-focused serious radicals.  Better fewer, but better.

We’re keen to hear what people think.  Send us your thoughts in the comments section down below the article or email

What side are you on?

See also:
Political power after the 2014 election
What I’ll do instead of voting this election
Not voting versus lesser-evilism and dressing up reformist politics
Parliament does not exist

  1. Barrie says:

    This article was done at the time of the last election. Despite some of the specific players changing and one or two minor points of difference (for example the implosion of the Conservatives and the maintenance of ACT) conditions today seem virtually the same as then:

  2. Phil says:

    Cheers, Barrie. I agree with the ‘main line’ of your article. All that has changed since 2014 is that Hone has stopped pretending Mana is a radical leftish party and has made a totally parliamentary cretinist deal with the capitalist Maori Party to try to carve up the Maori seats. Both Mana and the Maori Party fear that if they don’t form an alliance it will be the end of them. Of course, the simple reality is that most Maori simply aren’t interested in ethnically-based parties. It makes more sense to have a class-based multi-ethnic movement that champions Maori rights.

    We’ve had a few positive responses to the article – from places like Gisborne and Nelson!!! – as well as Redline and AWSM having a similar take on this issue.

    If we get some more responses over the next couple of weeks, I think we should open up a discussion group or closed facebook page where the serious folks can discuss what an anti-capitalist campaign against the September circus might look like and start to organise for a small national gathering.

    I think an anti-capitalist campaign against the electoral farce could get a bit of media attention too – probably more than we got actually when we ran the 2008 Workers Party campaign.

    As well as attempting to challenge/expose National, Labour and the other parties that champion the interests of the ruling class, it will also draw a line on the left: who is really for an anti-capitalist perspective and who is just pretending (ie really want ‘a Labour-led government’!).

  3. Barrie says:

    Makes good sense to me. I hope something comes from this initiative.

  4. Phil says:

    I think we need a core of people to say they are prepared to meet up and plan a series of activities and/or get actively involved. I think there is quite a bit of scope for stuff – short videos, pickets, leafleting, some imaginative events, etc, directed at workers and young people (and the overlap).

  5. Anthony Snelling Berg says:

    Indeed the best workers can do at this moment is not to vote. Not voting is a vote of no confidence in the capitalist system. The political parties in NZ can not be reformed. But even if workers create there own socialist workers party and enter the Beehive they will be part of the capitalist class’s system and have to compromise. History has proven this time after time all over the world. The best we can do is actions in the streets, try to improve working conditions and wages in the workplaces, pamphleting and the use social media. Especially the computer is a powerful weapon to educate people. In other words get a dialogue started.