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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

How to defeat NACTs austerity attack


The NACT governments new package of labour reforms is designed to improve 'productivity' and
'create jobs' says John Key. This is the neo-liberal language for increased exploitation of
workers under worse conditions to restore profits. Under the new law workers will have fewer
rights than they had under the ECA in the 1990s. This is why the CTU has been forced to call
for street protests. However, like the social democrats in Greece and Spain, where the EU is
imposing tough austerity measures, the CTU will use street protests to try to pressure the
Labour Party to the left and defeat the NACTs at the next election. But Labour will not
challenge capitalism and imperialism. Its purpose has always been to reconcile workers to
capitalism. We say that the working class must organise independently of the Labour Party and
fight for a revolutionary party and program to socialise the economy and plan production for
need and not profit.

What drives the NACTS? heading for another great depression like the 1930s.
NZ is a weak, low-wage semi-colonial producer of
The NACTs have shifted up a gear to declare an open bulk commodity exports. Its a price taker and not a
class war on workers in this country with a series of price maker in the world market which means that
attacks on work rights (90 days fire at will for all new the NZ capitalist class has to drive down the costs of
jobs) beneficiaries (toughening work tests for sickness production to get any share of the profits from
benefits, DPBs) ACC (denial of sexual abuse counselling) agriculture, mining, tourism and education etc., that
savings (reducing employers Kiwisaver contributions), have historically flowed to British, US, and
cuts to health, education, privatisation of social Australian imperialism. Today that value is
services, tax increases increasingly flowing to
(GST) and so on ad Chinese imperialism.
nauseum. The whole point The national share of
is to force down wages profits, wages, taxes
and to cut the social wage and social services in
to shift more value Aotearoa depends on
produced by workers to the profits retained
the bosses and increase from the value of export
their profits. earnings of these
commodities, and today
The rise in violent crime is it is the relationship
a direct result of the crisis with China that is
and the call to arm the critical to this
police is to up the level of distribution of the
state force to clamp down national income.
on workers and suppress
refusal of workers to pay To keep the whole
for the crisis. It is not a economy buoyant the
policy option for the prices for commodity
NACTS, rural rednecks or exports (agriculture,
bloody minded fascists as tourism, tertiary
some think. education etc) have to be
held up by increasing
And it certainly can't be fixed by a Labour demand in these imperialist and other economies. They
Government that Sue Bradford is calling for. It is a want cheap milk powder, cheap iron sands, cheap
specific response by the NZ ruling class to the honeymoons and cheap degrees. This means competing
immediate crisis of profitability in the export with other semi-colonial exporters by driving down the
oriented sectors. Resistance to the NACTs which prices of production including labour costs (fire at will,
merely aims to get Labour into government in 2011 performance pay for teachers in schools and
will fail miserably as we explain below. universities, workfare) environmental costs (gutting the
RMA, cutting ETS obligations) and energy costs
Chinese semi-colony? (privatise water, privatise national parks, foreshore and
seabed, make workers subsidise corporations (eg
The NACTs represent international capital in NZ RioTinto-formerly Comalco, electricity, and billions in
facing a serious global crisis of falling profits that is ETS subsidies).

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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by a


The main demand for such commodities at the socialist, planned economy democratically administered
moment is being driven by China which is rapidly by the working class. We do not mean some fake
overtaking the other imperialist powers as NZ's main socialism which can be won by a 'progressive' bloc
trading partner. This explains the NACT's between workers and national capitalists benefitting
subservience to Chinese imperialism and NZ's from the relationship with China. Much of the left
weakening ties with its traditional trading partners - models its brand of socialism on market socialist
apart from Australia which is a weak imperialist reforms. Parliamentary socialism is the Standardista
power dependent on China for its growth and NZ's brand. The there is the Chinese brand which advocates
main trading partner. a form of market socialist state that acts to 'develop'
rather than 'colonise' the semi-colonial world. This is
The opposition to selling land to Chinese corporations the Chavista or Bolivarian brand espoused by the
and the growing Chinese migrant population reflects Australian Green Left and local mimics.
this increasing influence. China is the only large
dynamic capitalist economy whose rapid growth is so We have discussed the danger for workers of these left
far preventing the reformist
global economy positions at
going into a length
complete slump. elsewhere. We
That is why in the argued that
last analysis the China is no
NACTs policies are different from
those of a NZ semi- the US or EU
colonial ruling imperialists in
class forced to Asia, Africa or
serve the interests Latin America,
of Chinese where it extracts
imperialism. super profits like
all imperialist
Strategy for powers, even if
fight back its methods
differ. We
Understanding the conclude that
class enemy then, there is no
is the key to possibility of the
fighting back. The NZ working class
NACTs represent a being able to
subservient, follow some
largely parasitic, NZ ruling class that is becoming the imaginary
lackey of Chinese imperialism. They have no room to Fabian, Chavist or Chinese road to market socialism.
manoever but have to cut production costs to meet the
demands of Chinese imperialism. Key signals this when Therefore, the fight for a socialist Aotearoa is not just
he agreed to joint ventures with Chinese corporations against the NACTs, but also against the Labour Party
in third countries. He is acting for NZ bosses seeking a backed by the CTU union bureaucracy which thinks that
stake in the profits from China's ability to super-exploit it can reform capitalism in the new Chinese Century
third world countries. Such pressure to outsource NZ because NZ's relationship with China is 'progessive'.
production will grow if costs at home are not cut
drastically. Aotearoa socialist republic
This is the new template that shapes NZ politics. We In its essence the fight for socialism is the not to
can call it the Chinese century. It excludes the kowtow to China but to join forces with Chinese
possibility of reforms since these raise capital's costs workers to fight to expropriate imperialism and the
and harm NZ's competitiveness. Whatever the antics NZ ruling class who are the junior partners of
of the NZ ruling class may be they are driven by this imperialism.
necessity. And NZ workers do not have the clout of
Chinese workers who are winning higher wages from By socialism we mean collective ownership and also
a very low base. The only alternative for NZ workers collective consumption of value as the product of
is to fight for a socialist Aotearoa. labour. Nationalisation can become collective property
only if workers take control and prevent the
Socialism needs a revolution privatisation of value as profits (eg stop private mining
of national parks). This means defending state owned
To make this absolutely clear, by socialism we mean assets not only from privatisation but also from private

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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

appropriation of value by putting them under workers does not prevent profiteering, the workers in this
control. This means nationalising under workers control sector need to demand land nationalisation under
all land and landbased resources, the key sectors of workers’ and small farmers’ control. This would
industry, and the banks, as steps towards socialism. remove the costs of servicing mortgages as one major
flow of rent from the land to a parasitic class or
How do we get there? rentiers. Similarly the attempts by Fonterra to create
shares that can be traded on the stock exchange is
The Maori struggle to regain customary ownership of designed to allow international finance capital to profit
the Foreshore and Seabed is one avenue. It would tie from the labour of working dairy farmers.
up land and sea-based resources as common property
that opens the way to end private profits. However, in It is interesting that the NACTs are opening up to
itself it does not stop profiteering by corrupt bosses or Chinese imperialist investment in Agriculture while Alan
by capitalist partners (such as Maori held fishing quota Hubbard who offers interest-free loans to young
in JVs with Japanese corporations). farmers is seen as a threat to the profits of the
corporates. Hubbard proves that farmers can benefit
But we have no confidence in the Maori Party brand of from their own labour without being mortaged to the
iwi communalism. It would see customary land big banks. Socialism however, cannot be built on
benefitting iwi capitalists rather than Maori workers. It Christian philanthropy. In exchange for land
would copy the Chinese 'Communist Party' capitalists. nationalisation farmers would have interest free state
Land in China is state owned, but the capitalists are loans and access to state R and D to develop their land
able to make profits from the labour value extracted and retain the product of their labour.
from workers on that land. To stop this Maori customary
land would have to be democratically administered by Action Program
the majority of Maori workers to ensure that the rent
(value) produced was also collectively used to meet the In this situation where NZ's economic role is that of a
needs of the masses and not the private greed of any semi-colony to Chinese imperialism facing a global
class of shareholders. Maori workers have a common crisis, no trust can be put in the National or Labour
interest in this with Chinese workers to socialise parties that both subordinate workers to the
nationalised property! capitalist class and to imperialism. In every sector
where the new employment reforms are designed to
drive down wages and conditions, such as in
agriculture, mining, tourism, education, etc., to
allow Chinese and other imperialists to reap super-
profits from Aotearoa, workers have to fight for what
they need now and not what the local or Chinese
capitalists say they can 'afford' to pay.

• Jobs for all on a living wage! Reduce hours


and share the work. Benefits tied to the living
wage!
• For unions on every jobsite under the control
of the membership with recallable delegates!
• For rank and file control of the unions. For
union independence from the state. Break
with the union bureaucracy!
• No sackings under the 90 days act! All for one
and one for all!
• Equal rights for all workers by age, gender,
ethnicity, nationality, sexuality!
• For workers committees and assemblies in
every city.
Land Nationalisation • For a national Congress of workers
assemblies.
This is the model for the agricultural sector. Here the • For a general strike to smash the NACTs
demand for land nationalisation should not be based on austerity program!
opposition to foreign ownership (the CAFCA and Green • No to privatisations! For nationalisation of the
Party and some Maori nationalists line) but collective land and key sectors of the economy under
working class ownership which requires class alliances workers control with no compensation!
with foreign workers. Agricultural workers would call • For a socialist Aotearoa/New Zealand!
for a class alliance with working farmers in NZ and poor
peasants in China. And since nationalisation in itself

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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

Release Sergeant Bradley Manning – War Hero!


The release of the Afghanistan 'war logs' that blew the all this data and uploading it to someone he identified
secrecy surrounding the inhuman war in Afghanistan as Julian Assange. At times, he claimed he himself had
have been traced by the Pentagon to Bradley Manning - leaked the material, suggesting that he had taken in
bradass87 - an intelligence officer based in Iraq. The blank CDs, labelled as Lady Gaga's music, slotted them
logs that expose the ongoing conduct of a brutal, into his high-security laptop and lip-synched to
murderous war against the people of Afghanistan are nonexistent music to cover his downloading: "i want
likely to fuel a new wave of people to see the truth,"
anti-war opinion against the he said.
war. He dwelled on the
abundance of the
While Wikileaks role in disclosure: "its open
facilitating the publication diplomacy … its
of the logs is to be Climategate with a global
welcomed, the real hero scope and breathtaking
of this scandal is depth … its beautiful and
bradass87 who was horrifying … It's public
arrested in May and has data, it belongs in the
spend two months in jail public domain." At one
in Kuwait. We say the point, Bradass87 caught
workers of the world must himself and said: "i can't
demand the immediate believe what im
release of Brad Manning as confessing to you." It was
a war hero! too late. Unknown to him,
two days into their
Manning was dobbed in to exchange, on 23 May,
the army by a former Lamo had contacted the
hacker Adrian Lamo. US military. On 25 May he
According to the Guardian: met officers from the
It was not until late May Pentagon's criminal
that the Pentagon finally investigations department
closed in on a suspect, and in a Starbucks and gave
that was only after a very them a printout of
strange sequence of events. Bradass87's online chat.
On 21 May, a Californian On 26 May, at US Forward
computer hacker called Operating Base Hammer,
Adrian Lamo was contacted 25 miles outside Baghdad,
by somebody with the a 22-year-old intelligence
online name Bradass87 who analyst named Bradley
started to swap instant Manning was arrested,
messages with him. He was immediately extraordinarily shipped across the border to Kuwait and locked up in a
open: "hi... how are you?… im an army intelligence military prison
analyst, deployed to eastern bagdad … if you had
unprecedented access to classified networks, 14 hours a Lamo's reason for informing on Manning to the military
day, 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?" was that the log could identify and expose military in
For five days, Bradass87 opened his heart to Lamo. He the field. Perhaps this was as the result of the first
described how his job gave him access to two secret Wikileak from Manning, the video of the massacre of
networks: the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, civilians:
SIPRNET, which carries US diplomatic and military
intelligence classified "secret"; and the Joint Worldwide ... on 5 April, Assange held a press conference in
Intelligence Communications System which uses a Washington to reveal US military video of a group of
different security system to carry similar material civilians in Baghdad, including two Reuters staff, being
classified up to "top secret". He said this had allowed shot down in the street in 2007 by Apache helicopters:
him to see "incredible things, awful things … that their crew could be heard crowing about their "good
belong in the public domain and not on some server shooting" before destroying a van which had come to
stored in a dark room in Washington DC … almost rescue a wounded man and which turned out to be
criminal political backdealings … the non-PR version of carrying two children on its front seat.
world events and crises." This obscenity led to a scramble to find the
Bradass87 suggested that "someone I know intimately" perpetrators, not of the assassination but of the leaks.
had been downloading and compressing and encrypting Lamo tries to throw dirt on Manning's motives:
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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

reaction, the truth about the war can only bring


Lamo, 29, who lives in Sacramento, said that the about stronger actions to end this imperialist war and
Afghan war documents are "basically a large dump of the capitalist system that makes it necessary.
battlefield intelligence systems Manning's case is proceeding within the
that Manning had access to." military justice system, with the Army
He said, however, that Manning Criminal Investigation Command leading
lacked the technical expertise to the probe. The next step is a preliminary
obtain and transmit all the data hearing to determine whether there is
and received help from people sufficient evidence to recommend a
who worked with WikiLeaks. court-martial, Lapan said. If individuals
"There was overlap between not connected to the military are found
people who were his friends and to be involved in the leak, "then that's
people working with WikiLeaks," when Justice and the others would
Lamo said. potentially get involved," he said.
"They made him feel real cool by Here we see the military rushing to
putting him in touch with suppress the truth and punish the
Assange," he said. "They were whistleblowers and of the 'messengers'
WikiLeaks' 'shopper' for classified such as Wikileaks.
information. There are at least
two people in his social circle The world's workers must defend
who are in contact with whistleblowers against imperialist war!
WikiLeaks."
Lamo said he does not know how As for the argument that the truth be
Manning's friends came to know suppressed for the sake of the lives of
or work with WikiLeaks. "At some point he was either the military personnel, we say bring on the truth, more
induced, or of his own volition, decided to contact truth and nothing but the truth. A recent case of the
[WikiLeaks]," Lamo said. photo of NZ SAS soldier on duty in Afghanistan, Willie
So Manning is risking the lives of his fellow soldiers Apiata, when published in the corporate media, met
because he wants to feel 'cool' by associating with with condemnation by the RSA (Returned Services) who
WikiLeaks? But it doesnt really matter if Manning felt said it put him at risk. We say more photos please.
'cool' or not, he jeopardised his career, his freedom (he
could face 50 years in jail) and possibly his life by
acting on his beliefs that the war was "criminal". If
Postcript on Lieutenant Timothy
Manning's posts on his dig.com address and his support O'Donnell
for wikileaks role in 'climategate' are any indication,
Manning may have right-wing libertarian politics. On August 4th NZ time the first NZ casualty of the war
in Afghanistan occurred. The dead soldier was
A blogger says that Manning was Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell aged 28, a
screaming "look at me, I'm a member of the NZ Provincial
hero waiting to happen". Reconstruction Team in Bamyan
Province. A decorated career soldier
I can't say if this has harmed the who also served in East Timor,
security of our troops. But I O'Donnell was killed when his convoy
don't think it's advanced the hit a roadside bomb. The irony is that
cause of peace. This information the war in Afghanistan is lost, the
gives us a measure of insight COIN of McCrystal and Petreus
into what it's like on the ground (counterinsergency operation) has
of a massive war - but how much failed, and Obama is looking to do a
did we need that, and what cost deal to get out leaving a massive US
was it worth paying to obtain? As base at Bagram. Not only that, the
far as I can see, two things have people of Bamyan do not want the
been satisfied by this leak: Reconstruction Team as there is no
bradass87's desire for notoriety, nation building possible in a middle of
and our need for voyeurism. a war. Yet the death of this soldier
So bradass87's actions that can becomes a cause for national
lead to a courtmartial and years mourning in New Zealand. As
in jail are motivated by nothing communists we do not mourn his
more than a 'desire for notoriety' to feed our need for death, nor do we welcome it. As a professional soldier
'voyeurism'. and an officer O'Donnell was prepared to risk his life to
wage an oppressive war. His death is part of the defeat
Whatever Manning's motives and whatever our of imperialism in Afghanistan.

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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

US-China Rivalry threatens Global War


In recent weeks China and the US have taken more hostile stands militarily. This is expressed in
China's opposition to the current joint US-South Korea military exercises in the Yellow Sea. The
US has also intervened in the dispute between China and Vietnam over Islands in the South
China Sea. This military standoff represents a deeper falling out politically as China has
refused to concede to the full sanctions on Iran demanded by the US, and now stands to gain as
the EU cuts off all investment. War preparations against Iran continue meanwhile. China has
also taken a clear stand for an independent Afghanistan against a permanent US base in the
heart of central Asia. China is likely to back Pakistan in any fallout with the US over support
for the Taliban. China also stands to gain from Pakistan's influence over the Pashtun which
leads to a moderate Pashtun state or Pashtun control of Afghanistan.
Behind the political fall-out is the now powering away from the US
growing economic rivalry between accumulating more capital from its
the US the hegemonic imperialist FDI proportionately than the US.
power on the wane, and a rapidly China against its image of projecting
growing China which is now the 'soft power' is making tough deals in
US main rival in Asia, Africa and the semi-colonial countries and
Latin America. This rivalry has raking in superprofits.
intensified with the onset of a
global recession in 2007 which Thus the mixed motives of the US
saw the US, EU and Japanese towards China's dynamic economy
economies go into recession, means that the US wants to
while China continued to grow similtaneously dominate China's
rapidly. The global capitalist crisis economy short of any all-out direct
continues to deepen and military confrontation. Its current
threatens to slide into a double- tactics are to push China back, but
dip recession or depression. It will widen the gap not so far as to force a serious breakdown in relations.
between the US and China and push the US into a more Instead the US uses the big stick to make Japan
aggressive projection of its military power in Asia backdown on evicting the US base from Okinawa, and
where it is determined to create a permanent base in to allow more US bases in Japan. Then there is the re-
Afghanistan, in Africa where AFRICOM now mobilises US awakening of the Korean war which has been halted
and African forces in many countries, and in Latin only by an armistice since 1953, the Cheonan incident
America were the US stage the coup in Honduras, has 7 and the South Seas conflict with Vietnam. All of this is
new bases in Colombia, and renewed its occupation of the result of a policy in which the US attempts to both
Haiti. In all of these new expanding US military fronts, profit from and yet contain China. The further away
the US is using its military superiority with the main from China the more the US is prepared to stoke up its
objective of pushing back China's expanding economic client regimes to confront China. As we discuss below
power. this opens up the immediate prospect of proxy wars on
every continent. What is the likely outcome of this
The inter-imperialist rivalry between the two bipolar scenario?
imperialist poles, the US bloc and the China bloc,
explains the current military escalation in East Asia. From multipolar to bipolar rivalry
China's economy continues to grow at almost 10%. US
investments in China continue to grow. US firms rely on As we have argued at length elsewhere, the only
the China market to avoid bankruptcy. General Motors explanation for the behaviour of China today is as an
is contracting in the US but expanding in China. Apple emerging imperialist power. This is the only way we can
is now taking advantage of the growing Chinese middle account for its phenomenal growth and its global
class. China is now outstripping Japan as the No 2 world influence. We put this down to the unique features of
economy. At this rate it could catch up with the US China being an ex-workers state able to retain both the
within two decades or less. Thus the US is trapped in its territorial internal colonies of its former workers state,
relations with China. Without its investments in China as well as the strongly centralised state apparatus and
the US would be in a deep depression. So the US state planned economy. The Stalinist bureaucracy was
strategy with China is to increase its economic share of able to transform itself into a powerful capitalist class
China's labor power, resources and market. Yet China is retaining control over the Chinese economy. Opening

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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

up to the global market and to foreign investment 2001 Russia and China formed the SCO with most of the
provided the new ruling class with access to modern former soviet republics of Central Asia - Kyrgyzstan,
technology and a platform from which to catch up with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan - as Pepe
the most productive capitalist economies. The rapid Escobar puts it a "security blanket" between it and
capital accumulation that resulted now had to be Afghanistan. But SCO is much wider and forms the
invested globally to maintain the rising level of raw potential anti-US global bloc of states. Iran, India and
materials and labour power required to maintain the Pakistan have "observer" status, and increasingly
high growth rate. As a result China emerged as the only aligned to the SCO are the other members of the BRIC,
new imperialist power since the rise of Japan in the India and Brazil, as well as Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
period between the world wars of the 20th century. The recent tensions between the US and Pakistan over
Yet it couldnt expand into the global economy unless it Afghanistan and between Israel and Turkey may
was able to displace existing imperialist powers. indicate a further pull towards the China/Russia pole.
China is still an emerging imperialist power that has Tensions in Central Asia such as the recent coup in
only begun to invest heavily globally in significant Kyrgyzstan suggest that the US bloc is losing ground to
amounts since 2000, and it's growth has been at the the China/Russia bloc.
expense of the US and its traditional imperialist
allies, notably France, Spain and to a lesser extent Reformist illusions in China
Japan. This is evident in both China's inroads into the
spheres of influence of the European powers in all three Most of the revolutionary left is locked in the 20th
continents. This is true where China is replacing its century conception of China as a form of workers state,
rivals as the dominant political and economic power, as a market socialism, or a capitalist semi-colony
in Latin America where it has formed strong alliances dominated by US and Japanese imperialism, or some
with the Bolivarian and other populist regimes in hybrid thereof. For the reformist left that supports the
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivarian and Cuban road to socialism, China is a form
Venezuela. It is also evident in Africa were a number of of market socialism that is helping the 'developing'
states are entering into 'strategic partnerships' with countries of the South to escape the exploitation of the
China at the expense of the US and the EU. It is also US and the IMF and World Bank. For them China is not
reflected in the willingness of China to form JVs with interested in colonising these countries but in a
European oil and mining corporations such as Total and mutually beneficial economic 'cooperation'. The fabled
BP -notably with BP in Iraq and Total in Latin America 'win win' solution. It therefore does not impose an
and China itself. imperialist policy on its trading partners. China has no
need of military expansionism since it is growing on the
Thus the US and EU imperialist powers have been basis of its competitive advantage. Therefore, in any
weakened by the rise of China. In particular the bipolar military confrontation with the US and other imperialist
world acts to pull Europe apart. Russia is within the powers, or in any proxy war between China and the US,
China pole outside the EU and NATO and a main partner China should be defended.
in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Russia
has a strategic relationship with Germany to trade oil What the reformist left fails to recognise is that China
and gas for the latter's high tech industries to has made a rapid transition from a bureaucrat workers
modernise the Russian economy. Germany is torn state, via state capitalism to become an emerging
between Russia and the EU in imposing tough new imperialist power. There is no 'win win' scenario except
sanctions on Iran. While France, UK, Germany fall in for the Chinese ruling class and its national capitalist
behind a tougher stand to isolate Iran, Russia pulls in junior partners. The workers and poor peasants in both
the other direction. It seems then that the Germany China and its 'strategic partners' face the same old
Russia relationship is engaged in a tug of war at the capitalist zero-sum game. Capitalist China cannot
centre and can shift towards one or other pole expand as a benign capitalist power but must adopt an
depending on who controls Caspian oil. Even more expansionist imperialist policy. This means that the
important we can see that Germany is now left cannot explain the reality of a China today as a
strengthening its relations with China. Since the global powerful, global force now coming into conflict with
recession Germany has moved closer to China as its the US and its main allies. It is clear that such an open
biggest export market and a major site for German FDI. conflict invalidates the idea of China as dependent or
In 2009 Germany's exports overall declined by 18% while subservient to other imperialist powers, or acting in a
its exports to China grew by 7%. It now recognises 'one benign way that does not pose a threat to other
China' and has softened its criticisms of China's 'human imperialist states. If that were the case China would
rights' abuses. All of this points to opposing forces not be expanding economically, nor would it be facing
splitting Europe as Germany, Ukraine and Turkey move political and military opposition from the established
away from the US pole towards the China pole. imperialist powers.

The other states that are most affected by the bipolar The failure to understand China's transformation from
pull are the former Soviet republics of Eastern Europe workers state to imperialist power means that the
and of Central Asia that made up the sphere of revolutionary left is disarmed in the event of this
influence of the former Soviet Union and who's military standoff leading to active hostilities. What if
economics are all going with the flow of Caspian oil. In China's military got into a skirmish with the US over say

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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

Taiwan or the DPRK? What if China came into conflict order to invest capital and super-exploit Venezuelan
with Israel or the US over Iran? What if Zimbabwe which labor and raw materials. The defence of Venezuela
is armed by China went to war against the US proxy from the US cannot put any faith in the national
regime in Uganda of Rwanda? Or if the situation in the bourgeoisie nor China or Russia as allies in this struggle.
Sudan blew up and the North which is armed by China In Africa the US that is mobilising its forces to push its
invaded the South backed by Uganda and armed by the client states Rwanda and Uganda to gain control of oil
US? Any of these scenarios pose the question as to and other minerals in the DRC, the Sudan and Somalia.
which side to revolutionaries defend.
Here as in Korea, China is unlikely to get directly
Revolutionaries in a bipolar world involved right now. Nevertheless in opposing US proxy
wars in its client states we would also oppose China
What is the revolutionary position? We recognise the directly intervening to use any of these states as
right of oppressed countries to defend themselves proxies. For example if China was to get involved
against imperialism. Thus Iran, Taiwan, DPRK, militarily as Russia did in Abkazia and South Ossetia in
Zimbabwe, Sudan etc all have the right to defend the proxy war with Georgia backed by the US, we would
themselves from any aggressive imperialist power. be for the defeat of both imperialist powers. In all
However, if any of them acts as the direct proxy for any cases we call on the working class to take the lead in
imperialist power, then we cannot defend them without the anti-imperialist struggle and as well as defeat the
defending the imperialist backers. Thus, since we say imperialist military interventions and occupations to
China is imperialist, we cannot back China in any direct expropriate all imperialist property and that of their
or proxy war with other imperialist powers. By ‘direct’ national capitalist junior partners.
we mean the direct involvement of the imperialist
powers. The escalation of the Korean conflict could Imperialism's death knell
potentially drag China into defending its claim to
Taiwan, its historic defence of the DPRK, or the South The current global crisis is a crisis of imperialism
China Seas. For reasons outlined above this is an approaching its death knell. The US and its EU allies are
unlikely scenario at the present though as tension rises on the decline. They have accumulated huge stockpiles
the potential for a clash is ever present. Right now, of worthless fictitious capital that cannot be invested
proxy wars in other parts of the world are more likely productively. The recession that began in 2007 was the
to become flash points as in Iran, Venezuela and start of the destruction of this worthless fictitious
Central Africa. In all of these cases any attack by the capital. Capitalism survived this recession only by the
US or other imperialist powers is to recover these dynmmic productive power of Asia led by China that
nations as part of their particular sphere of interests. pulled Latin America and Australia behind it. And by
Thus it is the increasing loss of the resources in these the massive bailouts to finance capital paid for by the
countries to China that forces the US to go to war. future surplus value of the world's workers. The next
phase of the crisis which is to force workers to reduce
For example, in Iran the US lost control with the their wages and welfare to slave standards will be one
overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Ever since the it has of severe deflation as more mountains of worthless
been hostile to the Islamic regime and seeking to capital are destroyed.
overthrow it in favour of a US friendly leadership.
Further destabilisation via a color revolution or The worlds' workers will not pay for the next instalment
sanctions will lead inexorably to open war as neither of bailouts. The resistance shown by the Greek workers,
the Islamic regime nor China as its main backer will the Spanish workers and the peasants and workers of
accede to US demands. In a war with the US, Israel, Kyrgyzstan show that workers are willing to fight. They
NATO or the UN we would side with Iran as an are held back only by the illusions that the reformist
oppressed country, but at the same time we would call left continues to keep alive in the labor movement. But
for the working class of Iran to take the leadership of the crisis leaves the dying imperialisms of the US and
the anti-imperialist struggle and expropriate all EU forced to fight the only viable imperialism China to
imperialist property including that of China. The same yet again repartition the world by means of war and
in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine etc. Wars in massive environmental destruction. In these wars
any of these states are directly connected to the major workers must resist all the siren songs of the reformist
inter-imperialist front that runs through Afghanistan left to back China as the salvation of defunct capitalism
and Pakistan between the US and its allies and China and imperialism.
allied with Russia.
The solution to the crisis of capitalist imperialism is
It is the same in Latin America and Africa. In a US proxy not to kowtow to China but to unite all workers with
war between Colombia and Venezuela we would be for Chinese workers to overthrow all our national ruling
the defence of Venezuela. We do not oppose the use of classes and to open the road to world socialism.
Chinese or Russian arms to defend Venezuela. However, Workers turn your guns on your own imperialist
we also say that the only reason that China and Russia ruling class!
sold arms to Venezuela was to establish client states in For a new world party of socialism!

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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster: Oil Spill


shows that Capitalists Unfit to Rule
During the OPEC oil embargo of 1973-74, war criminal Henry Kissinger is reputed to have
quipped, "Oil is too important to be left to the control of the Arabs". We have a different
perspective: Oil is too dangerous to be left to the control of the capitalists! As we go to press
in late June 2010, the oil spill (read: gush) into the Gulf of Mexico from British Petroleum‘s
exploded oil rig Deepwater Horizon has already become the worst oil spill disaster in world
history, far exceeding the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, and even the 1979 Ixtoc disaster
off the coast of Mexico – and there is no end in sight.
Since April 20, when the oil from the well plus the
actions of BP and its toxic chemical dispersants
contractors set off the initial used by BP now pose a
explosion that sank the oil rig major public health danger
– the deepest offshore oil to the coastal populations
drilling operation in the U.S., of the Gulf – as with
if not in the world – tens if Hurricane Katrina. At the
not hundreds of thousands of same time, oil from the BP
barrels of oil have gushed out spill has begun to enter the
each day into the Gulf of ocean currents of the Gulf
Mexico, and onto the Stream. This could carry
coastlines of Louisiana, dangerous pollutants along
Alabama, and Mississippi. In the coast of Florida and
Florida, the oil has reached the East Coast towards
the pristine white beaches, many of the tourists are Europe and the rest of the world – where the toxic
gone, and many thousands have lost their jobs. The plumes could destroy entire fish populations around the
same coastal areas of the Gulf that were pounded by globe. Hurricane season has already started, and severe
Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and left to rot by the Bush storms pose a threat of even greater dispersal of the
administration, have been hit hardest by the oil spill, toxins and carcinogens now floating in the Gulf in vast
and have been left to rot by Obama, the Democratic quantities.
'environmental' President.
Almost all the public statements made by BP and the
Time has come and gone for stopping the gusher and Obama administration about the spill have been nothing
cleaning the spill, but the government has merely but an endless barrage of lies. BP and the government
pretended to put Obama's boot on BP's throat, all the have done the bare minimum to stop the spill and clean
while canalizing and damming up the righteous fury of it up, in order to minimize the damage to BP's profits.
the Gulf Coast residents with all the power of the Initially, official estimates by both BP and the U.S.
Washington spin machine. Over and over, the true government put the figure for the size of the spill at
picture has been suppressed by BP spokespersons, between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels per day (at 42
government experts, the police, and compliant editors gallons to the barrel).
and publishers in the mainstream press. The Coast
Guard has put force behind the spin, raising false hope However, this proved to be at least five times less than
in each of the parade of fixes, killing priceless time and the measurements made by university scientists and
guardingthe prerogatives and property of BP until two environmental groups, who severely criticized BP's
relief wells come to the rescue (maybe) in August. A mathematical analysis and arrived at figures that put
million gallons of crude oil are being burned off on the the size of the blowout at a minimum of 70,000 barrels
surface daily, yet we see no mention of any possible per day. And the numbers just keep on rising. After BP
effects on public health in the region, or on climate was forced to provide a high quality video of the spill,
change, and neither OSHA nor the EPA has attempted independent scientists estimated that it was releasing
to intervene. at least 25,000 barrels per day – and possibly as much
as 100,000 barrels per day![2]
The vast area of ocean covered by the oil spill
approaches 4000 square miles, the size of Delaware and In stark contrast to the lies by BP CEO Tony Hayward in
Rhode Island combined.[1] In combination, the crude May 2010 that the impact of the spill would be "very,
10
Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

very modest", Deepwater Horizon is one of the worst oil depth of 3,600 feet below the surface of the ocean.[5]
spills in history. It amounts to nothing less than a Plumes like these have the potential to kill hundreds of
monstrous crime against nature by capitalism, dolphins and whales, and millions of fish and other
specifically U.S. and British imperialism. The only way marine organisms. If this situation continues for another
humanity can prevent such hellish environmental month or two, huge sections of the Gulf of Mexico could
catastrophes in the future is for the working class in the well become a dead zone.[6] This could bring dire
U.S. and around the globe to rise up and get rid of consequences for the ecology, the fishing industry, and
capitalism, once and for all, through the socialist tourism, not only in the U.S. states that border on the
revolution. The earth's ecosphere will not survive more Gulf, but also in portions of the Caribbean.
than a few decades unless the working class takes
power and establishes socialism on a worldwide scale. Thousands of Gulf Coast fishermen and shrimpers who
were made jobless by the BP spill have volunteered to
The explosion and fire that sank the Deepwater Horizon become involved in the oil cleanup. But BP has not
oil rig killed 11 workers. One of the last workers to been willing to hire more than a small number of them
escape the explosion was Mike Williams, a technician – and only on condition that they first renounce their
working for Transocean, the company that leased the right to sue the company. These fishermen are likely to
oil rig to British Petroleum. In a television interview lose their livelihoods for many years, and BP offers
broadcast in May 2010, Williams exposed the central them $5000 each! This barely pays the interest on their
role played by BP executives in creating the conditions insurance costs. Most of them have received nothing as
that led to the massive blowout of crude oil from the of yet. BP also refused to supply the fishermen with
well. protective equipment, and now many of them have
become sick from exposure to the crude oil and
Immediately before the spill, BP executives arrived at dispersants. To add insult to injury, BP threatened to
the rig to oversee the completion of drilling by fire workers in clean-up crews who turned up for work
Transocean and the plugging of the well by wearing protective respirators. EPA tests have shown
Transocean‘s contractor, Halliburton. At a management that the combined effect of crude oil and dispersants,
safety meeting held on the rig, Transocean managers in the form of small airborne particles, is even more
proposed to insert three concrete plugs into the well toxic than they are separately.[7] This may also explain
and keep down the massive pressure by using heavy why five offshore rigs were shut down soon after the
drilling fluid called mud. According to Williams, the BP spill when rig workers fell ill.
manager responded, "Well, my process is different, and
I think we‘re going to do it this way".[3] [4] What BP While a lot of attention has been focused on the role of
management wanted was to begin removing the mud the BP corporation and its executives, the liberal and
before the last plug was set, and so speed up the environmental left in the U.S. has tried to downplay or
operation to save money. Of course BP got their way, ignore the close ties between BP, and the oil industry
and what resulted was a massive blast of methane gas generally, and the Obama administration. Obama was
that set off the entire disaster. the recipient of huge financial contributions from BP-
controlled PACs and PB employees during the 2008
From the very beginning, BP's attempts at closing off election.[8] BP continues even now to expend millions
the gushing oil well have been halfhearted at best, and of dollars to lobby top Democrats in Washington,
token at worst. Much like any other capitalist including Democrats close to Obama himself.
corporation, every single step BP has taken since April
20th has been motivated by its bottom line, the During the first two weeks of the BP spill, many even in
protection of its sacred super-profits ($6 billion in the the mainstream media commented on how Obama and
first quarter of 2010). This included its decision to put BP seemed to be speaking with one voice. On April 2,
off a costly 'top kill' operation to close off the oil well 2010, just weeks before the spill, Obama stated that "I
until well over a month after the spill – only to find that don't agree with the notion that we shouldn't do any
it did not work after all. In this regard, BP is not [offshore drilling]. It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs
especially greedy, anti-environmental or evil – today generally don't cause spills. They are
especially in comparison to American corporations! BP technologically very advanced"[9] These remarks were
is simply obeying the laws of capitalism's 'free' market made in response to a question about Obama's speech
in extracting (and often spilling) oil solely for the declaring hisintention to open up large areas of the U.S.
pursuit for profit – and not to satisfy real human or coastline to offshore drilling.[10]
environmental needs.
The administration continued to stand by this decision
Oil slicks from the BP spill have already reached the for two weeks after the rig exploded, and asserted that
Gulf wetlands and beaches, killing thousands of birds, the disaster would in no way lessen its support for the
fish, marine mammals, and oyster beds, as well as plant lifting of a moratorium on offshore drilling off the
life. Still, BP continues to deny the existence of oil Atlantic coast. As White House Press Secretary Robert
plumes. Plumes are huge curtains of oil that remain Gibbs maintained to reporters a few days after the rig
deep in the ocean and may not even be detectable explosion, "In all honesty I doubt this is the first
from its surface. For example, just one plume has been accident that has happened and I doubt it will be the
measured at 3 miles across and 1,500 feet thick, at a last. We need the increased production. The President

11
Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

still continues to believe the great majority of that can This is even more true today, because the world is
be done safely, securely and without any harm to the experiencing the worst capitalist economic crisis since
environment."[11] [12] the Great Depression of the 1930s. Oil has become the
lifeblood of modern day imperialism, and it is precisely
Even as late as mid-June, Obama's Interior Secretary for this reason that the Middle East and the ex-Soviet
stated that it was his hope that the moratorium republics in central Asia are such critical areas of the
prohibiting offshore drilling would lass less than six world to imperialism. At the same time, the oil
months! Obama continued to defend BP even in the companies and other powerful multinational
face of scandals involving the Minerals Management corporations, which are at the heart of the U.S.
Service, the department of the federal government capitalist economy, depend for their very existence on
responsible for regulating offshore drilling and other the continuation of highly dangerous processes and
industrial activity of the oil industry in the U.S. While unchecked pollution. The oil and petrochemical
issuing 'safety alerts' to BP and other oil companies to industries are one of the main sources of the
activate back-up switches on oil rigs (an option of last greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change
resort to prevent crude oil blowouts), the MMS did and global warming.
nothing to enforce its regulations. The director of MMS
stepped down after the spill when it was revealed that The capitalists who own the means of energy
MMS staff had accepted 'gifts' from oil companies, such production (such as offshore oil rigs, refineries, coal
as tickets to sports events, lunches, and even sex mines, and the like) are incapable of defending the
parties with industry-hired prostitutes. environment and protecting humanity from the effects
of environmental damage or climate change. This is
Opinion polls published in the first month after the BP because of capitalism's commitment to production for
spill showed that the vast majority of those surveyed the sake of profit. In the market, need is measured not
were critical and even angry at the Obama in terms of hunger, sickness or pollution, but in terms
of profit. The capitalists of BP and other the oil
companies have no reason whatsoever to avoid the
pollution of the environment if this impedes the
production of their profit. It is the job of Obama and
the politicians of the twin ruling class parties, the
Democrats and Republicans, to protect the interests of
the oil companies and make sure that nothing does
indeed impede their production of profits.

The recent observations by environmental scientists


that oil from the spill has begun to enter the Gulf
Stream, and that the BP oil gush has released huge
amounts of methane into the Ocean, underlines the
urgency of this environmental catastrophe. Modern day
administration's response to the disaster – almost to the imperialism has created the potential to destroy the
same degree as they were at BP. Even fellow Democrat whole global environment. Already the ice covering the
James Carville of Louisiana pleaded with Obama a Arctic Ocean has begun to disappear as a result of
month after the spill, "Man, you got to get down here global warming. If the frozen methane that lies beneath
and take control of this, put somebody in charge of this the Arctic Ocean begins to thaw, it will release a
thing and get this moving," he said. "We‘re about to die greenhouse gas (methane-air mixture) that is 26 times
down here."[13] While the pressure of public opinion worse than carbon dioxide in terms of its global
caused Obama to shift his position and extend the warming effect. In other words, what the catastrophic
moratorium on new offshore drilling permits – to a oil spill highlights is the urgency of the environmental
token six months – he has adamantly refused to budge crisis created by global capitalism.
on his insistence that BP remain in charge of shutting
down and cleaning up the spill. The widespread destruction of fish populations by oil
pollution carried by the Gulf Stream, and the other
Like his Republican predecessor, Obama and his threats posed by climate change from greenhouse gas
administration are 100% committed to supporting the emissions, means that now more than ever, our planet
industrial production of the oil companies, including is facing a dire environmental emergency. To avoid the
offshore drilling, regardless of the destructive results to further destruction of this planet, all offshore drilling
the environment. If supporting the oil industry was not must stop now.
on Obama's agenda, why would his administration have
spent billions, if not trillions, of dollars on the wars in Workers at home and abroad must combine their
Iraq and Afghanistan? The truth is that U.S., European, struggle against the economic crisis of the capitalist
and now Chinese imperialism are all absolutely system with environmental consciousness. The working
dependent on oil to fuel their economic exploitation of class must fight for workers' control of the oil industry
the planet and the working class around the world. and of all industries that emit greenhouse gases.
Workers must control heavy industry so we can

12
Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

implement the emergency measures needed to living victim of the explosion and its results, and to
transform our current industrial technologies into gather information not only on the immediate
green, environmentally friendly, sustainable environmental and economic effects of the disaster,
technologies. but also on the long term health effects to cleanup
workers and Gulf residents, and other indirect
What this means today, in the aftermath of the worst consequences.
oil spill in U.S. history, is that the oil and energy
industries must be nationalized under workers’ control, We call for a Workers' Militia to accompany them in
with no compensation to the bosses. To pay for the their investigation, so that they will suffer no
clean-up operations, we must demand hundreds of interference, obstruction, or obfuscation by BP or any
billions of dollars from the oil and energy companies government body. The Workers' Commission of Inquiry
who are responsible for the destruction of the should report to an international workers' tribunal,
environment in the first place. At present, despite all primarily made up of workers from the Gulf Coast
their promises, Obama and BP have hired ridiculously states, as well as affected workers in other areas such
small crews of workers to clean up the vast areas of as Mexico and the Caribbean, but also representing
contamination of wetland, beaches, and open ocean in local fishermen and the unemployed. A workers'
the Gulf of Mexico. tribunal would establish culpability and bring charges,
but also publish findings and assess true costs –
We can already see that the serious cleanup objectively including losses to the pension funds that invested in
called for would require an international emergency BP, representing the retirement dreams of many
effort on the scale of that undertaken during the World millions of workers.
Wars. We demand that as part of an environmental
public works program, millions of the able-bodied In the end, only workers' control of the means of
unemployed be hired at union wages and benefits, production can prevent the recurrence of such
trained, housed, fed, and equipped with proper environmental catastrophes in the future. The entire
protective equipment, and deployed to scour the energy industry, including the oil corporations and the
waters, the wetlands, the islands, and the beaches; to Wall Street investors and banks that finance them,
clean and rehabilitate injured wildlife; and to dispose must be expropriated without compensation – that is,
of the waste in an environmentally sensitive manner. nationalized under workers control – and defended by a
workers' government. In reality, this goal can only be
The clean-up must be placed entirely under workers' achieved if the working class in the U.S. and around the
control and carried out by workers' organizations in globe rise up, and get rid of capitalism once and for all
conjunction with independent scientists and engineers. through the socialist revolution.
Much more could be done through the creative use of
existing technology and resources. For example, the • Hands off the workers helping in the clean
trucks used to remove waste from portable toilets can up; no gag orders on participants; no
be used to clean up oil spills by sucking oil into their interference with media access to BP
holding tanks. The armed forces, with all their personnel, cleanup workers, and Gulf area
technology and equipment, can be put to much better residents and locations!
use in cleaning up the oil spill than in killing hundreds • Immediate, full replacement of wages and
of thousands of innocent people in Iraq and benefits for all those who lose work as a
Afghanistan. result of the disaster, directly or indirectly!
Billions of dollars to fund retraining and
The operations aimed at plugging the well must be also
create millions of jobs in remediation!
be placed under the control of the oil and energy
workers. Independent scientists from the oil industry • Provide appropriate protective equipment for
and the government should coordinate the efforts, and all cleanup personnel. Provide health care for
all BP personnel must be subordinated to these all, especially for cleanup workers and those
independent scientists, who in turn must be affected by the spill. Provide multilingual
accountable and under the control of oil and energy health warnings at all affected beaches and
workers. fishing areas.
• No cap on BP’s obligation to pay for every
Finally, an investigation of this monstrous crime against penny of the cleanup cost and all damages to
nature and humanity must be carried out by Gulf Coast workers, fishermen, and their
committees of workers in the oil industry, working with families. Prosecute all BP executives and
scientists and engineers accountable to the working regulators whose decisions contributed to this
class. We call on the International Trade Union disaster!
Conference, the AFL-CIO, and the United Steelworkers
(now home to the former Oil, Chemical, and Atomic • Reprinted with permission of Humanist
Workers Union) to form an independent, international Workers for Socialist Revolution
workers' commission of inquiry into this totally http://redrave.blogspot.com/2010/07/us-
preventable disaster. We would want them to interview deepwater-horizon-disaster-oil-spill.html
everyone who ever worked on this project, and every

13
Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

Education ‘Reforms’ pave way for privatisation


The Government has introduced a large number of education cuts, alongside moves towards
privatisation, National Standards, and targeted cash injections to support its assessment
focused agenda. To justify this, it has created a “crisis” which does not exist. The NZEI
teachers’ union is strongly opposed to National Standards and has conducted protests and
campaigns but stopped short of striking or an outright refusal, instead calling for a trial. The
education cuts are part of an assault on the welfare state including health, benefits and social
services, designed to make the working class pay for the international capitalist crisis, and to
make private providers rich at our expense. Assessments of students and teachers paves the
way for rewarding the well performing schools and teachers at the expense of the failing
schools opening the way for the privatisation of education. These attacks on public provision of
universal, compulsory education funded by taxation has to be resisted by mobilising teachers
unions alongside parents and students.

Early Childhood Education


The cuts to Early Childhood Education, where instead of
100 % funding for qualified teachers, there is now only
80%, is an absolutely shameful and short sighted attack
upon the most vulnerable members of society.

The cuts affect 2,000 centres caring for 93,000 children.


$285 million will be cut over the next four years. Centres
are losing between $20,000 to $80,000 per year, and
are faced with the choice of either cutting staff or
raising fees. The majority are raising fees by up to $40
per week. These cuts will hurt low income families the
most, especially the one in four families living in
poverty, most of whom are beneficiaries. There is no
way these families of can afford a fee increase, so they
will be forced to withdraw their children. More than a
quarter of affected centres are planning to leave the 20
free hours per week scheme and half are considering Some have argued that a grandmother type of figure
reducing staff to student ratios. can care for the young just as well as a qualified
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/elizabeth- teacher. However surveys have shown that the
binning/news/article.cfm?a_id=163&objectid=10654237 presence of an educated qualified teacher or carer with
http://www.nzei.org.nz/Early+Childhood+Education their wider vocabulary, theoretical knowledge and
www.educationaotearoa.org.nz practical skills, enriches the learning environment of
http://www.educationaotearoa.org.nz/storage/Educati children at all ages, and enhances their development
on%20Aotearoa%20Winter%202010.pdf and learning.

Early childhood education is the foundation of all other Whilst quality ECE from age three onwards produces
learning and numerous studies have shown how it is excellent results, some studies have indicated that the
linked to higher achievement and quality of life for an attachment needs of babies up to age two or three are
better met by consistent committed care by a known
entire lifetime. However it is a very long time before
adult. Achieving this would need more funding not
any profits can be made out of children attending ECE.
In fact capitalists have an interest in shifting the costs less, for example by reducing adult to child ratios
of ECE to ‘user pays’. This may be why it is already the considerably at centres, increasing funds for
Cinderella of the teaching profession with centres professional home based care, extending paid parental
leave, increasing the domestic purposes benefit, and
operating already on stretched budgets. While the NZEI
has achieved pay parity for kindergarten and primary increasing funding to parent co-operatives such as play
teachers this does not necessarily apply to private centres. The low pay or no pay of workers at this level,
centres, and non -qualified staff, like teaching and up through the education sector, are an example of
assistants in primary schools, are paid poverty wages the non-valuing of women’s work in general,
particularly caring and mothering work, which has
scarcely above the minimum wage.

14
Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

generally been done for free, despite the high skill and immigrants for English as a second language classes,
commitment level that it demands. literacy classes, and other classes which enrich
people’s lives and provide social cohesion. The PPTA, to
A society with a genuine commitment to equality in whom many of the teachers belonged, campaigned
education would begin at pre-school level, with free against this. www.dimming.co.nz
early childhood education for all,
and more funding for Kohanga National Standards
Reo’s and centres for Pacifica
children. Instead ECE funding cuts The Government is determined to
may be forcing some of these impose National Standards on
centres to close. Cutting costs at primary schools despite almost
the pre-school level, where much universal resistance from teachers,
future crime could be prevented, academics, and international
goes hand in hand with increased evidence. To justify this, National
spending on prisons, which like would have us believe that
schools, are to be run as public education is in crisis, rather than
private partnerships, where their capitalist system, and that
massive public spending will end national standards are needed to
up as private profit. It is therefore ‘pull up the tail’ of those failing in
hypocritical for the NACTs to claim the current system. That is, to
they have the interests of children close underperforming schools or
at heart! force them into private hands
where the focus will be to train
University and Adult cheap, compliant wage-workers!
Education
In fact, New Zealand does not
Restrictions on university entrance have a crisis in education, and is
are reversing a trend which has seen large numbers of doing very well by international standards. As John
New Zealanders gaining tertiary education. Unemployed Hattie put it in recent radio discussion with Charmaine
and beneficiaries were amongst those benefitting from Pountney and Gordon Dryden:
university education. Even so, some groups still have http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/doco/doco-20100627-
low university attendance, such as Pacific Island 1600-Radio_NZ_-_Smart_Talk_Science_innovation-
students. There are few Pacific language early 048.mp3
childhood education centres available, and Pacific “Where is the problem we are solving?”
Island students are channelled into non-academic Where there is a problem, the reason is poverty which
NCEA(National Certificate of Educational Achievement) affects about twenty to twenty five percent of
exams at secondary schools so the schools can achieve students.
higher pass rates. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=
1&objectid=10666578
5% of university funding is now linked to performance,
and National has warned that this is just the start. John Notwithstanding more funding being allocated to lower
Key has made grumbling noises about the poor decile schools (in low SES areas), these schools have far
investment that interest free loans make; and the too little funding; and sometimes lack cultural
government restricts loans to those with a good pass relevance.
rate.
According to Charmaine Pountney, former principal of
The cutting of the Training Incentive Allowance has Auckland Girls’ Grammar School, what is lacking is a
stopped many single parents from being able to get commitment to equality. The Child Poverty Action
qualifications which would take them out of poverty Group has explained at length how poverty affects
and into professional occupations. Others have gone to children’s ability to learn, from lack of food, books,
extreme lengths to try to study under starvation clothing, ability to pay for uniforms, school trips and
conditions. cultural activities etc. An immediate answer would be
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id= to raise benefits and wages; re-introduce a universal
1&objectid=10666600&fb_ref=fb_like&fb_source=profil child benefit, and provide more education resources
e_oneline where they are needed.
National does not really want beneficiaries to have www.cpag.org.nz
higher education. Instead it prefers them to do short
cheap training courses so that they can quickly be put The NACTs answer to this manufactured crisis is
on the labour market offering their skills to employers ‘National Standards’. This involves requiring every child
for low pay. from age six, every year, to sit tests which measure’s
the child’s literacy and numeracy against a “standard”
The cuts to Adult Community Education have meant the
which is deliberately set higher than the current
loss of a very cheap cost effective service to
national average, and higher than is needed for the
15
Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

child to succeed perfectly well at NCEA later on. This is norms, are deemed ‘failing’, and said to be below the
a bit like deliberately setting benefits below the level National Standard which is deemed to be ‘aspirational’.
of needs, which the government has been doing since
1991. Just as a beneficiary cannot live on benefits that This is disputed by teachers who say it is grossly unfair
are deliberately set too low, so a child cannot possibly to judge today’s students by tomorrow’s standards
succeed in a test where the pass mark is deliberately (Education Aotearoa p 20-21) Jan Tinetti, Principal of
set above their developmental level. Merivale School in the Bay of Plenty which has a 98%
Maori roll ,describes the standards as Eurocentric and
This scandalous and cruel assault upon young children’s “almost middle class.”. “They miss a lot of what is
self esteem, where children are labelled as failures aspirational for my kids...they miss the cultural
from age six, is deemed by National to be the way to richness.” (all quotes from Education Aotearoa p19-21).
“bring up the tail” of the children who are currently National Standards run counter to learning through play
performing below the average. In fact, results of which is vital for younger children in particular, and
similar national testing overseas, and a whole barrage discourage creativity, imagination, or other subjects,
of educational experts and teachers in New Zealand, while the focus is simply on passing tests in literacy and
show that they do not improve learning at all. numeracy. Parental support for National Standards is
dropping after the first test results have come out.
Academics John Hattie, Martin Thrupp, Terry Crooks,
Lester Flockton, wrote an open letter to Education An article in the Independent entitled “My little Boy’s
Minister Anne Tolley, asking her not to introduce Class Struggle”- also on the NZEI website- describes the
National Standards. They are not against assessments, difficulties faced by a 6 year old child who left behind a
but point out that we already have these. They talk nurturing, warm, creative classroom environment in
about the international failures of these kinds of tests, Ireland, to face a classroom focused almost entirely on
the dangers of publicising results (eg having been used passing tests in Australia. There was no more fun, no
as league tables overseas) and the impoverishment of more cuddles, no more school plays.
the culture of teaching and learning. They point out http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/parenting/my-
that some of our most remarkable adults have had little-boys-class-struggle-2272380.html
unremarkable school achievements. They are even Children in Australia face increasing pressures with a
willing to work with Anne Tolley to devise better big national test at age eleven, and miss out on the
national tests which focus upon a child’s progress. arts.
http://www.nzei.org.nz/site/nzeite/files/misc%20docu
ments/Academics'%20Open%20Letter%20to%20Hon%20An Teachers and Unions Resistance against
ne%20Tolley.pdf
National Testing
In New Zealand the primary teachers’ union, the New
Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI ) strongly opposes
National Standards, and is conducting a campaign
against it. It has a facebook page: NZEI-Te-Riu-Roa

Some teachers are trying to protect their students


from the tests because of the hurt they can cause.
Professional development has been inadequate and
therefore abandoned, or refused because of opposition
to national standards. Principals are refusing to waste
school’s budgets on training courses on it. Most
teachers are either not implementing or struggling with
the process (Education Aotearoa, Winter 2010, 20-21)

Recent surveys (have indicated that more than a


Charmaine Pountney said in the radio discussion, that quarter of teachers do not understand the tests, and
class hegemony was maintained by national standards that around 40% do not feel prepared for them.
which will be fine those already achieving well but http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=
make no difference to students in lower decile schools. 1&objectid=10666913
She said that that the tests wrongly focus on “outcomes
not incomes”, and “output not input”. NZEI organised a bus trip from Kaitaia from the Bluff to
protest the National Standards, with rallies in all the
According to John Hattie only 50% of infants who would major centers, and a petition which they took to
have passed PAT tests (Progressive Achievement Tests), parliament. They have issued thousands of postcards,
would pass National Standards, and only 35% of year 8 and have set up websites www.nationalstandards.org,
students would. The tests are thus unfair, and “out of www.handsupforlearning.org.nz and facebook pages.
kilter with existing assessment tools”. Children who are They have set up a group called “Project Orange” for
well on track to pass NCEA (National Certificate of community supporters to join to oppose the standards.
Education) at secondary schools and well within current
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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

Teachers and principals (who are both in the same they see it. This disunity weakens both unions, which
union although the principals are also in a Principals as public sector unions with high union membership,
Federation) are united against national standards, with could have some impact.
school boards (technically their employers) reluctantly
behind the principals, but the School Trustees Teachers in Australia went on strike against then
Association has backed Anne Tolley and has been Minister of Education Julia Gillard’s league tables being
telephoning teachers with warnings about their published on the website “My School” which forced her
resistance to the standards. Anne Tolley, backed by the to take them down.
media, has tried to portray teachers as failing in their
duties by publically criticising the standards; and In the UK, national testing happens at age six and age
generally portraying them as hostile and disobedient. eleven. Lessons are increasingly structured, with every
Teachers have responded that they are not bound by single reading lesson requiring an assessment. Teachers
the confidentiality of public servants, but by their unions have refused to implement the tests in 2011.
professional duties as teachers.
There are important lessons here. The education
But the NZEI is not calling for an out and out refusal unions must unite in an all out opposition to the cuts
of the standards, but only for a trial of them. Nor in education and to National Standards as deliberate
have they called for stop work meetings or strike moves to attack the foundations of publicly funded,
action over the issue. A strike would be illegal, which secular, universal and compulsory education. Strike
is the excuse used by union officials not to take action by the combined teachers unions supported by
action. NZEI is also engaged in wage negotiations as other unions would send a clear message that they
their collective contract comes up for renewal. are prepared to put their professional standards and
the rights of children to the test in a showdown with
The Post Primary Teachers Association say National this NACT government.
Standards could have ”disastrous effects upon students
and teachers”, and could lead to league tables that Ultimately to realise our education needs, along with
wrongly label schools as failures. They say it would be all our other needs to food shelter, health as well as
“most unwise” to ignore the international evidence meaningful work and social equality, we need a
against them. http://www.ppta.org.nz/ program to end capitalism and plan for a socialist
society.
However the PPTA is not very supportive of the NZEI.
PPTA members are opposed to pay parity with (to be continued)
primary teachers and resent primary teachers
achieving pay increases on the PPTA’s coat tails, as

Exposing and Ending the Wage System!


Review of ‘Exposing Right Wing Lies’.
The Question and Answer booklet by Mike Treen of the the Trade Union level of consciousness which sees
Unite union is an antidote to the dominant capitalist capitalism as a class divided society because the bosses
statistics or “right wing lies”, which the National – Act do not pay the full value of wages. Marx, however
parties use to justify attacking the working class. rejected the wages system itself as a class division
http://gpjanz.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/exposing- based on capitalist ownership and exploitation of wage
right-wing-lies.pdf labour. Treen’s booklet unfortunately adds to the
confusion. It does not challenge the wage system.
Below we will deal with a few examples of his
arguments. However, Treen’s booklet keeps the debate This is par for the course for Treen who is National
within the bounds of capitalism. He deals in half-truths Director of the Unite union, and was for years a
to answer the two important questions on the cover – member of the former Socialist Action League (now
“Who is to blame for the economic crisis and what are Communist League) and is a longstanding member of
the solutions?” and so offers no solution but that of the Cuban Solidarity Committee. More recently Treen
reforming capitalism. We need to go further and apply has visited Venezuela and Bolivia representing Unite
the Marxist analysis to expose the capitalist economic union and is publicly supportive of the Bolivarian
forces behind the crisis. Revolution led by President Hugo Chavez. This
pamphlet therefore reflects Treen’s political positions
This pamphlet is aimed at union members who may be and is consistent with the Council of Trade Unions
confused by the NACTs attack on workers and sticks to Alternative Economic Strategy.

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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

Right wing lies Reformist half-truths Marxist truths


Increasing minimum wages Wages have been lagging behind prices and The lag in wages reflects the growing rate of exploitation
will increase prices. inflation. In spite of increasing efficiency of workers with increased productivity. Wages decline
and productivity by 80%. relative to profits. Prices are broadly based on the labour
time that went into the goods – the minimum socially
necessary labour. Workers therefore have in interest in
replacing capitalism with socialism.
Increasing minimum wages Inflation is driven by forces in the capitalist market.
Workers share of the total NZ Gross Domestic
will increase inflation. Inflation is used to devalue wages. The real value of wages
Profit (GDP) has dropped by 10% (while
is forced up only by the organised strength of workers
capitalists share increased).
through strikes and occupations.
Increasing minimum wages Actually minimum wage increases have been Unemployment continues in capitalism because the
will increase alongside increased employment. capitalist class keeps a permanent “reserve army” of the
unemployment. unemployed to force workers to compete for jobs driving
Cutting youth rates will The proportion of youth unemployment down their wages. Youth are forced into the reserve army
increase youth remained steady with increased youth by casualisation , restoring youth rates etc. The solution is
employment. minimum wages (in last 10 years). to fight for jobs for all by sharing the work on a living
wage.
Rogernomics part I (under Rogernomics failed (1980s and 1990s) the The “free-market” ideas of Roger Douglas were designed
Labour) worked rich got richer and the poor got poorer. to open up NZ to the global market allowing international
(privatising, rail, road There was no increase in economic growth capital to buy up cheap public and private assets and
maintenance printing, or general incomes (except for the rich) with restore its falling profits. State assets such a transport,
power, telecoms, & Rogernomics. Labour effectively outlawed electricity, telecoms etc; were subsidies to capitalism
commercialising TV, Coal, political strikes. They sold capitalists whole while NZ was a protected economy. Deregulation meant
etc) sections of the economy to run – for profit they were restructured and sold off to reduce the drain of
(not for social good). taxes on capitalist profits. Workers have a class interest in
expropriating all state and private assets under a Workers
Government.
Rogernomics part II (under Take home wages fell by 25% in real terms All these were attempts to restore capitalist profits, with
National) cut welfare & (1982 to 2008). The National government’s the costs passed on to the working class. Organised
reduced access to Employment Contracts Act (ECA) in 1991 workers are a threat to capitalists, because if workers
education, housing & attacked union organisation and cut benefits strike we can stop profits flowing to the capitalist
health, attacking unions. (social wages). class. Strong unions are schools for revolution and threaten
the class rule of capitalists.
The ECA would make a ECA was an attack on organised workers Unions are allowed by capitalism only to the extent they
“free” labour market. (unions). Membership has dropped from 720 can control the working class. If union leaders do not fight
thousand to 350 thousand. (CTU) Union effectively for workers then they need to be replaced.
leaders failed to fight the when workers However unions without a Marxist analysis of capitalism
were calling for a General Strike. will not end this messy capitalist system.
workers would be rewarded Because of loss in real wages – working An excuse by the capitalist class to increase the rate of
for hard work families have increased their hours of work, exploitation making workers produce more profits for
and level of debt. To bring in the same capitalism at reduced labour costs (wages).We demand
“real wage” income (as 20yrs previously). jobs for all by sharing work on a living wage!
National blamed National cut all benefits: unemployment, Capitalism creates a reserve army of unemployed which
unemployed as “bludgers”: DPB, invalids, sickness. And ‘retirement’ was includes disproportionately, women, youth, ethnic
now John Key says, cut by pushing the age of eligibility back minorities and migrant workers. It is in the interest of all
“slackers” from 60 to 65yrs. workers to unite to fight and overthrow capitalism.
GST is a fair tax The richest paid as little as 6% of their There can be no ‘fair tax’ (as no ‘fair wage’) since all
income in GST, while the poorest paid 9-14% taxes come out of the value produced by productive
GST (getting into debt to survive at rates workers. The demand to tax the rich, or employers cannot
above the 12.5% GST). prevent exploitation at the point of production.
Less tax on rich will “boost No evidence for impact on growth. In fact A workers revolution is needed to create a planned
investment and economic growth & productivity have sometimes been (socialist) economy where production can be used and
growth” highest when top tax rate was highest. developed to meet the needs of all. (Not this chaotic
capitalist investment for profits system).
Inequality is an incentive to Suicide, crime and drug abuse went up. Inequality under capitalism results from capitalists owning
work hard Study by Richard Wilkinson and Kate the means of production and workers having to work to
Pickett in their book “The spirit level – produce profits in order to survive. Inequality therefore
Why more Equal societies nearly always do cannot be overcome by redistributing income from
better” show income inequality is not a capitalists to workers unless workers unite to overthrow
good thing. capitalism and create a classless society.
Labours 1999 – 2008 record Labour never challenged the fundamental The Labour Party is a mixture of capitalists and workers
policies which were already there. Only representatives who only want to reform capitalism – a
minimal tinkering with the economy bourgeois-workers party. They do not organise to
occurred. overthrow this rotten system
Cut welfare health and The welfare state was a reform to even up The Welfare state was a reform of capitalism –without
education spending to pay the system. The cuts to welfare to pay for ending the rotten system that is capitalism. The Welfare
tax cuts are unfair and unions need to fight state is a wage paid socially to the working class as a

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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

for tax cuts to defend and extend the welfare state. whole (by the labour of health and education workers, etc)
to supplement the wage paid directly by the employers.

Economy – is in crisis or The economy is grim. This booklet concludes Crises are inevitable in the anarchic capitalist world
“fragile recovery” that the long term solution is a democratic economy. Only workers organised and able to make
plan, with “community control and workers a revolution can take control of banks and the whole
in management” economy, to plan it for the social good.

Alternative Economic Strategy attacks on the working class. National’s new


employment law is permission for bosses to ‘Fire at
The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) alternative will’ in their attack on the working class. It is worse
economic strategy is based on the delusion of “an than the Employment Contracts Act of 1991 because
economy that works for everyone", as if such a thing the weakness of the unions today makes it extremely
could exist under the capitalist system. The current difficult for workers to avoid signing onto a 90 Day
focus of the CTU is on increasing productivity (which ‘trial period’.
for Marxists is the rate of exploitation) so that
workers can bargain retain some greater share of the The NACTs would like to dispense with the unions to
increased value they produce. discipline workers from fighting back. But the two
headed attacks on wages and the social wage (Health,
This aligns the union leaderships with the capitalist Education, Housing and Welfare) means that workers
class as collaborating in the rise of productivity of the will resist. That is why the CTU has responded to the
working class to restore (falling) profits. Marx very Labour ‘reforms’ with a call to go to the ‘streets’. It
clearly described how the profits for capitalism will has to demonstrate its utility to the NACT bosses that
fall, and continue to fall. Moreover, the higher the it can control the workers fightback and steer it into
level of productivity, the greater would be the support for the Labour Party. Treen is a national
tendency for the rate of profit to fall because leader of the Unite Union which has successfully
machines do not produce value. The bosses try to recruited unorganised youth.
recoup their falling profits by
cutting real wages and While Unite is leading the fightback
conditions and attacking the against the 90 Days Fire at Will,
social wage funded by taxes. picketing workplaces that are
sacking young workers under this
The latest capitalist crisis was law,.unlesss this is seen as a first
the direct result of such a step towards challenging the
tendency for falling profits. bosses’ class rule over all of
When ordinary capitalist society, it becomes no more than
production was not returning a pressure on governments to reform
‘good’ profit margin, finance workplace relations, and holds
capitalism poured capital into back the new wave of militancy
dodgy and convoluted home within the dead end of parliament.
loans. The value of these was
artificially raised by speculation The only real power workers have
(and lies) way above the real is our ability to stop the flow of
labour value in construction. As profits for the capitalist class by
wages were cut and jobs lost taking strike action. We don’t
the banks found that workers mean token strikes with media
couldn’t pay their inflated stunts and ineffective pickets. We
mortgages. The real price of housing was way below mean a strike (reinforced by picketing) that really
this ‘fictitious’ value and the result was the sub- does stop production and/or distribution of
prime crash. commodities and stops capitalists’ profits.

There is a little reporting about the cost to the It is the potential of unionised working to organise
section of the working class who had taken home effective strikes and pickets which scares the
loans and have now lost their home to mortgage sales capitalist class. All the past gains of working people
and are left with a debt burden which will continue have been fought for and won only with the backing
to suck a cut from their wages into the profits of of strike action (real or threatened). As Trotsky said
finance capitalists. The efforts of the capitalists to in the classic work on Trade Unions in the epoch of
restore profits are mostly attacks on the working imperialism; break with the state, take control of the
class, and so it is in workers interests to fightback. unions into the hands of the rank and file and turn
the unions into organs of workers power to fight for a
The NACTs have continually used the latest capitalist Workers Government and socialist society!
crisis as an excuse to launch a capitalist range of

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Class Struggle 90 July-August 2010

What We Fight For


Overthrow Capitalism capitalism in crisis, led by a revolutionary Marxist
party, produces a revolutionary class-consciousness.
Historically, capitalism expanded world-wide to free
much of humanity from the bonds of feudal or tribal For a Revolutionary Party
society, and developed the economy, society and
culture to a new higher level. But it could only do this The bourgeois and its agents condemn the Marxist party
by exploiting the labour of the productive classes to as totalitarian. We say that without a democratic and a
make its profits. To survive, capitalism became centrally organised party there can be no revolution.
increasingly destructive of "nature" and humanity. In We base our beliefs on the revolutionary tradition of
the early 20th century it entered the epoch of Bolshevism and Trotskyism. Such a party, armed with a
imperialism in which successive crises unleashed wars, transitional program, forms a bridge that joins the daily
revolutions and counter-revolutions. Today we fight to fight to defend all the past and present gains won from
end capitalism’s wars, famine, oppression and capitalism, to the victorious socialist revolution.
injustice, by mobilising workers to overthrow their own Defensive struggles for bourgeois rights and freedoms,
ruling classes and bring to an end the rotten, for decent wages and conditions, will link up the
exploitative and oppressive society that has exceeded struggles of workers of all nationalities, genders,
its use-by date. ethnicities and sexual orientations, bringing about
movements for workers control, political strikes and
Fight for Socialism the arming of the working class, as necessary steps to
workers' power and the smashing of the bourgeois
By the 20th century, capitalism had created the pre- state. Along the way, workers will learn that each new
conditions for socialism –a world-wide working class and step is one of many in a long march to revolutionise
modern industry capable of meeting all our basic needs. every barrier put in the path to the victorious
The potential to eliminate poverty, starvation, disease revolution.
and war has long existed. The October Revolution
proved this to be true, bringing peace, bread and land Fight for Communism
to millions. But it became the victim of the combined
assault of imperialism and Stalinism. After 1924 the Communism stands for the creation of a classless,
USSR, along with its deformed offspring in Europe, stateless society beyond socialism that is capable of
degenerated back towards capitalism. In the absence of meeting all human needs. Against the ruling class lies
a workers political revolution, capitalism was restored that capitalism can be made "fair" for all; that nature
between 1990 and 1992. Vietnam and China then can be "conserved"; that socialism and communism are
followed. In the 21sst century only Cuba and North "dead"; we raise the red flag of communism to keep
Korea survive as degenerate workers states. We alive the revolutionary tradition of the' Communist
unconditionally defend these states against capitalism Manifesto of 1848, the Bolshevik-led October
and fight for political revolution to overthrow the Revolution; the Third Communist International until
bureaucracy as part of world socialism. 1924, the revolutionary Fourth International up to 1940
before its collapse into centrism. We fight to build a
Defend Marxism new, Fifth, Communist International, as a world party
of socialism capable of leading workers to a victorious
While the economic conditions for socialism exist struggle for socialism.
today, standing between the working class and
socialism are political, social and cultural barriers. Class Struggle is the bi-Monthly paper of the
They are the capitalist state and bourgeois ideology and Communist Workers’ Group of New
its agents. These agents claim that Marxism is dead and Zealand/Aotearoa, in a Liaison Committee with
capitalism need not be exploitative. We say that
Humanist Workers for Revolutionary Socialism.
Marxism is a living science that explains both
capitalism’s continued exploitation and its attempts to
hide class exploitation behind the appearance of PO Box 60620, Auckland, New Zealand.
individual "freedom" and "equality". It reveals how and Email cwg006@yahoo.com
why the reformist, Stalinist and centrist misleaders of http://redrave.blogspot.com
the working class tie workers to bourgeois ideas of http://communistworker.blogspot.com
nationalism, racism, sexism and equality. Such false
beliefs will be exploded when the struggle against the
inequality, injustice, anarchy and barbarism of

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