Archive for the ‘State capitalism’ Category

Note how the current National government, which came to power in the wake of the global financial crisis, has generally spent slightly more (as a % of GDP) on health and education than the previous Labour government (which enjoyed good economic times and substantial budget surpluses)

by Phil Duncan

The latest ColmarBrunton poll is not good news for National, showing their support dropping by 2.2 percentage points to 45.2%.  This would make it very hard for them to form a government with their current coalition partners – the Maori Party, Act and United Future.

However, the news is far worse for Labour.  Less than 8 weeks out from the general election, they have dropped a further 2.3 percentage points to just 24.1 support.  Their leader, Andrew Little, is only fourth in the preferred prime minister stakes.  Not only is he on less than a third of the support registered for National Party prime minister Bill English, he is now well behind New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and even behind his own deputy-leader Jacinda Ardern.

The only traction Labour seems able to get is in reverse.  Meanwhile New Zealand First continues to expand support, as do the Greens.

If Labour falls just a couple more percentage points then Little could actually be out of parliament, because he is only a List MP; he hasn’t been able to win a constituency seat.

Given that we are at the end of the third term of National, Labour’s position in the polls is especially dismal for them.  Can anyone remember a government that, at the end of its third term, was as popular as National and an opposition that was as unpopular as Labour?  It certainly hasn’t happened since Labour and National became the two dominant parties post-1935.

While a section of Labourites are in denial, pretending the polls results are not accurate, Little himself knows better and has said he is prepared to resign.  But Labour’s woes go far deeper than who happens to be the leader.  After all, they’ve had four leaders in less than nine years and what has happened?  Under Phil Goff, Labour wallowed, so he was replaced by David Shearer; under Shearer, Labour wallowed, so he was replaced by David Cunliffe; under Cunliffe, Labour wallowed, so he was replaced by Andrew Little; under Little, Labour has wallowed; in fact, it’s at its lowest point in decades.

Running deeper than the inability of successive leaders to grow Labour support is that there has been an ongoing erosion of its party vote in many of its old general roll heartland areas.  In 2014, for instance, more blue collar workers voted National than Labour and National now has the party vote in traditional Labour seat after Labour seat.

Put in short: the big majority of the working class don’t see Labour as (more…)

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Below is the text of a talk delivered by Dani in Dunedin on Friday, July 21.

by Dani Sanmugathasan

Good evening! My name is Dani Sanmugathasan, and I am a member of the British Marxist and Leninist organisation called the Revolutionary Communist Group. The following talk will be on the topic of ‘Corbynmania’ – the opportunist phenomenon that’s swept through the labour movements in core economies over the last two years – and a good place to start is at the events in London earlier this month.

INTRODUCTION

“Oh, Je-re-my Cor-byn!” rang out the chants of many on the streets of London on the 1st of July at the People’s Assembly’s ‘Tories Out’ march. The People’s Assembly, Momentum, Radical Housing Network, the Socialist Workers Party, the Stop the War Coalition, the Socialist Party, and the large trade unions (PCS, RMT, CWU, Unison, Len McCluskey’s Unite the Union…) were all rallying round the Labour Party leader, the holy Son of Attlee, the man who would save Britain from the iron grip of Tory austerity.

But beside these organisations, a distinct second current of marchers – composed of such organisations as Class War, the Focus E15 Mothers, Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants, Architects for Social Housing, Movement For Justice, the Revolutionary Communist Group, and trade unions like the IWGB – led a different chant: “Labour, Tory, same old story!” These groups made (more…)

nationalcolaNo-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons.

Nevertheless, there are certainly sections of the anti-capitalist left who, in practice, retain illusions in Labour.  Some think Labour is still, at its core, some kind of “workers’ party” and that it is therefore permissible to vote for it and call on others to vote for it.  Or to take sides in Labour leadership elections.  Or to invite Labour speakers to speak at their educational conferences.  Or to demonise National in such a way that points clearly to support for Labour, without actually saying so.

Even on the anti-capitalist left, there are also some illusions about the first Labour government.  And illusions about the early Labour Party from its founding in 1916 to the formation of the first Labour government.

It is a form of comfort politics.  Just as some infants require comforters, a left which hasn’t yet grown up and been prepared to face the harsh realities of the 21st century capitalist world requires the comfort of thinking that there was once a mass force for socialism in this country and that it was the early Labour Party.

In fact, there has never been a mass force for socialism in New Zealand.  There were certainly revolutionary elements in this country – marxists, anarchists, syndicalists – in the early 1900s and there were far more of them then, when New Zealand only had a million people, than there are today when the country has 4.5 million people.  One of the functions of the early Labour Party was to destroy these revolutionary elements, in part by mopping them up and sucking them into Labour, transforming them into harmless social democrats.  Where they couldn’t do this, they worked to marginalise them and destroy their organisations.

All the while, through the 1920s, Labour moved rightwards, becoming more and more oriented to saving and running the system than getting rid of it.  Labour was always far more hostile to the anti-capitalist left than it was to capitalism.  And, of course, the early Labour Party staunchly advocated for the White New Zealand policy, indicated that they preferred a divided and politically weakened working class – ie one more likely to turn to Labour as its saviour – than a united, politically powerful working class which didn’t need the Labour Party.

Over the five years that this blog has existed, we have run a lot of articles on Labour, including some major, lengthy pieces.  Below are many of the major ones but, for a full list, go to the Labour Party NZ category on the left-hand side of the blog home page.

Labour on immigration – from bad to worse

Political donations and the National-Labour siblings

Labour’s immigrant bashing has a human cost

What every worker should know about Labour’s 1987 Labour Relations Act

Can the Labour Party survive?

A comment on Labour’s ‘Ready to Work’

Latest opinion poll – Labour just can’t catch a break

The truth about Labour: a bosses’ party

Labour’s racist roots

First Labour government wanted ‘Aryan’ immigrants, not Jewish refugees from the Nazis

Labour’s introduction of peacetime conscription and the fight against it

1949 Carpenters’ dispute: Labour and the bosses versus the workers

Twyford is at it again

A stain that won’t wash off: Labour’s racist campaign against people with ‘Chinese-sounding’ surnames

More Labour anti-Chinese racism and the left tags along behind them still

Anti-working class to its core: the third Labour government (1972-75)

Labour’s legal leg-irons – thanks to fourth Labour government

Some further observations on the fourth Labour government

Workers, unions and the Labour Party: unravelling the myths

For a campaign for union disaffiliation from the Labour Party

Labour’s leadership contest: confusions and illusions on the left

Recalling the reign of Helen Clark

Income and wealth inequality unchanged by last Labour government

Darien Fenton at the fantastic conference

New Labour Party general-secretary indicative of party’s managerial capitalism

Why Labour wasn’t worth the workers’ ticks

Why do otherwise sane, well-meaning people choose to delude themselves about the Labour Party and make up rosy nonsense about its past?

Chris Trotter’s false recovered memory syndrome

Empty Andy and the ‘Eh?’ team

Union movement gathers for ‘fairness at work’; Labour gathers missionaries

Labour parties and their ‘left’ oppositions

Imperialism had a debilitating and corrupting impact on the workers’ movement in the developed capitalist world. The leaderships of many workers’ parties lined up behind their own exploiters and helped send millions of workers to horrible deaths and mutilation.

Before World War I broke out, the parties of the Second International were pledged to oppose such a war.  Yet as soon as the shooting started, the bulk of these parties lined up behind their own ruling classes and encouraged the working class in each of these countries to go and kill the workers of other countries.

Those who opposed the imperialist war were faced with, among other things, the task of explaining how this had happened.  Where did the rot in the Second International come from?

In fact, there had been a number of political battles already which showed that reformism and imperialist nationalism were becoming more and more powerful within the Second International.  These battles had included what stance to take on immigration and immigration controls and what stance to take towards the possession of colonies.

When the Third International was established, its founders made thorough-going anti-imperialism one of the conditions for membership.

In the work below, Lenin examines the impact of imperialism on the workers’ movement and the parties of the Second International.  It was written in October 1916 and published in a revolutionary newspaper in Russia in December of that year.  Several people translated it and it was marked up by several comrades for the Marxist Internet Archive.  The MIA is an invaluable source for the writings of a wide range of revolutionaries – as well as figures from the non-revolutionary left; please support the work of the MIA.

by V.I. Lenin

Is there any connection between imperialism and the monstrous and disgusting victory opportunism (in the form of social-chauvinism) has gained over the labour movement in Europe?

This is the fundamental question of modern socialism. And (more…)

by Phil Duncan

Tonight’s Newshub Reid Research poll contained yet more bad news for the ‘B’ team of the NZ ruling class.  Labour has slipped even further behind National, dropping to just 26.4% support three months out from the 2017 general election.  National, meanwhile, is sitting on 47.4% support.

Labour leader Andrew Little is on 7% support in the preferred prime minister stakes, less than a third of current National Party prime minister Bill English’s score.  Little has also fallen behind NZ First leader Winston Peters (9.7%).  He has, however, managed to overtake his deputy, Jacinda Ardern – but only because her support level fell even more than his!

It looks as if more of Labour’s support has drifted to the Greens (up 1.3 points to 12.5%) and NZ First (up 1.8 points to 9.4%).

Labour is in a real bind because (more…)

by Phil Duncan

Earlier this month the National Party received a $150,000 donation from a company which exports racehorses to Inner Mongolia (that’s the Mongolian region of China).  Later in the month, Labour received a hefty $100,000 donation from retired High Court judge and QC Robert Smellie.

Note how the rate at which the rich were getting richer speeded up under the fifth Labour government, led by Helen Clark; it was only stunted by the global financial sector partial meltdown

Heads of companies and high court judges are both part of the ruling class.

The ruling class in New Zealand is a very clever ruling class.  They don’t just have one party; they have two main parties to do their bidding – National and Labour – so that when one is looking a bit mangy and falling out of favour with electors, the other, more refreshed one can take over.

The mechanism for the replacement is an election, thus providing the veneer that this is a democracy.  The ruling class rarely cares about which party is in power, because they – unlike much of the left – understand that both are essentially their servants.

Sometimes, however, they do have a preference.  In 1949, Labour was exhausted and the ruling class plumbed for National, as they did again in 1951.  In 1984, the bulk of the ruling class swung behind Labour.  When that Labour government was exhausted by waging the biggest attack on workers’ rights and living standards since the Depression, the ruling class swung behind National in 1990.  When that National government was looking bedraggled, they swung behind Labour again in 1999.

Currently, they’re happy enough with National, but certainly not hostile to a Labour victory.

And, for their part, the people who run Labour are perfectly aware that they are not a left-wing party, not socialist, not even (more…)

The defeats inflicted on workers by the fourth Labour government and their pals atop the trade union movement, subsequently codified by the fourth National government, took a heavy toll on workers and unions here.  Over the several decades since, the working class has lost the ability, and even the inclination, to fight – with a few exceptions which have been most notable for being exceptions.

While workers here are more likely to cry than occupy – or fight back in any systematic way – when workplaces are shut down, austerity is imposed etc, the working class in the Third World is far more prepared to fight.  Anbd when they fight, they are serious.  They don’t just stand around on picket lines looking sheepish and uncomfortable – if they show up to their own picket lines at all; workers in the Third World show up prepared to fight.  They really fight the bosses, they break the law, they do battle with the state, and more.  And they do so in defiance of the state and the timid trade union leaderships.

Below is an article on the April 6 general strike in Argentina, where powerful waves of workers’struggle have been taking place for some time now.

The largest labor unions in Argentina called a general strike today, April 6, against President Macri’s economic policies. Workers around the country are protesting against the high inflation rates, austerity measures, layoffs and subcontracting. The transportation workers have completely stopped working, as have airline workers, canceling hundreds of flights in and out of Argentina. Schools are also closed, and this general strike comes after weeks of teacher mobilizations and strikes in Buenos Aires.

The streets of Buenos Aires are completely (more…)