Smash the TPP! For a Workers’ Government!

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Aotearoa/NZ is a semi-colony that has been undergoing re-colonisation for years . This is how imperialists behave. Semi-colonies are ostensibly ‘independent’ but remain economically dependent. NZ has a long history of dependence which it moderated in the 1930s by a policy of economic nationalism. Deregulation by the Fourth Labour Government removed some of the barriers to free trade and NZ dropped most of its subsidies and tariffs. NZ became the US Deputy Dog in the South Pacific.

But that is not enough for US imperialism facing an historic decline rooted in a stagnating economy. It needs open access to trade and to investment to boost profits and increase market share to compete with its No 1 rival China. When Obama says the US not China must write the new trade laws, he really means that US monopoly capital wants to extend private property rights globally over all new ideas and technologies to exclude its big rival. This will subordinate all the partners of the TPP to the rule of US monopolies. This means reducing the NZ state to a neo-colonial puppet of the US. At stake is not only who governs NZ in whose interests but the fate of humanity.

Against US imperialist rule in the Pacific we are for the Socialist United States of the Pacific!

What’s wrong with the TPP?

Why does it need to be smashed? US imperialism is setting the rules to stop China setting them and at the expense of workers in the Pacific Rim countries. New Zealand is a semi-colony. Its economy is dominated by a few big imperialist powers – US, China, Britain and Japan. But in the last 30 years it is being recolonised as these big powers have exerted direct control of the NZ state.

The 4th Labour Government began the process. NZ dropped its economic nationalism and opened itself to the global monopolies. Removing import protection allowed the big powers to muscle into the economy. But their drive to own and control the NZ economy was still impeded so long as a sovereign state could impose any barriers to the monopolies freedom to invest in and take super profits out of NZ. These barriers to naked neo-liberalism became critical when China’s rise began to undercut US dominance of the Asia Pacific region. To survive the US has to impose its complete economic and political dominance of the Pacific.

The TPP posing as a free trade pact actually trades off NZs remaining national sovereignty for tiny gains in market access for exports. The TPP reduces national sovereignty to a total fiction and will convert NZ into an outright neo-colony. Just like Warner Bros imposed its own labour conditions on NZ film workers in the Hobbit movies, US monopolies will be free to buy up NZ assets and dictate labour conditions to pump out super-profits at the expense of the working people of NZ.

To guarantee this freedom to super-exploit us, the US will tighten its military and surveillance control of politics and culture to extend its war on ‘terror’ to all of us who resist its hegemonic rule. Serco is blatant example of the global world order that enables US corporates to take over state functions from jails to social welfare to divide and rule the regions workers. 

Social Democracy

Will any future capitalist government oppose the TPP or have the guts to repudiate it? No. They will say they cannot because of the terms of the TPP which legally binds the signatories! Little has ducked and dived over what to support and what not to support when Labour should have committed itself to condemning it. Why not?

The NZ Labour Party was founded as an anti-strike party in 1916. It promoted a hysterical hatred of the SU and painted all ideas of communism as evil. It was created to divert workers from class struggle like the general strike of 1913, and to go to war on behalf of the Empire to save capitalism from the threat of communism. The Labour Party was born out of the labour bureaucracy, the petty bourgeois layer of privileged workers who were paid by the bosses to con workers into believing that capitalism could be reformed. But reforms always put profits before workers. Labour’s WW2 anti-strike legislation and the 1984 neo-liberal Labour Government was proof it that.

The problem is that there is no parliamentary “winning strategy” in a tiny semi-colonial country where foreign capital dictates state policy. A Labour-Green-Mana-NZF etc. government would not ‘flout’ the TPP because they are capitalist parties that observe the rule of law, the rights of private property (even when concentrated in a few monopolies worldwide), and would not dare to advocate repudiating the debt and re/nationalising the key sectors of the economy.

Labour fakers like Chris Trotter blinded like possums in the twin headlights of US and Chinese imperialism try to rescue defunct Social Democracy as our saviour from the neo-liberal ‘deep state’. This argument is a variation on the right wing conspiracy theory that provides an alibi for the failure of bourgeois democracy. We have news for Trotter; bourgeois democracy is part of that ‘deep state’. It is the democratic face of the dictatorship of capital.

That is why it is useless to continue to sow illusions in parliamentary democracy to reform and regulate trade and investment. Gordon Campbell, Jane Kelsey etc., all focus on defending legal mechanisms and state regulation to challenge US global hegemony such as in the Investor State Disputes. Campbell points to the invasion of US corporates such as Serco in privatising provision of state services. Any further erosion of state regulation under the TPPA will make worse the already dismal regulatory regime, as in the lax border biosecurity. The question then is: how can resistance to the TPPA break out of the trap of bourgeois democracy and take to the streets as a mass movement?

Radical Activism

Trades Unions and Social Movements that are designed to pressure parliament are inherently conservative. Strikes and protests are co-opted into the parliamentary talkshop. This conservatism results from the ideology of bourgeois democracy and the official leadership of the labour movement that can only lead workers to defeat. 30 years after the neo-liberal counterrevolution began parliament has been bypassed by the Bonapartist Prime Minister who as the ‘money man’ personifies financed capital. For radical activism to advance it has to get out of the parliamentary dead end and organised the power of labour –to strike, occupy, and build a genuine working class party that mobilises outside parliament to build mass working class support for a Workers’ Government.

There is potential in the unions and the anti-TPP resistance to take on the state by organising the working class majority in NZ. For example, “Doctors for Healthy Trade” have broken with their conservative profession to speak up about the impact of the TPP on the cost of drugs. The PSA in the health sector in Auckland are fighting cuts in their penal rates from double time to time-and-a-half. Right across the social spectrum the cuts in social spending and attacks on labour relations of the NACTs will become much worse under the TPP. The job of the unions is to step up their opposition to political strike action that breaks the ERA legal limits to strikes and exposes the political leaders who stand in the way of strike action. The advocacy for jobs, wages, health, education, housing, social welfare etc., needs to build towards ‘one big union’ and a national strike coordinated with national strikes in other countries as an international strike to defeat the TPP.

Marxists argue that the limit to the radical activism of trade unions and protest movements is the ideology of bourgeois democracy. They are trapped in the fetishized forms of capitalism that blames crises on the ‘abuse’ of power by the 1%. Reforming this ‘abuse’ is the objective of whistleblowers and hacktivists like Assange and Snowden. But this ‘abuse’ is not an aberration. It is endemic in capitalism struggling to survive. All the evidence is piling up that capitalism is driven by the worsening global crisis to attack and destroy all the historic gains won by workers over centuries and to the point of also destroying the ecosphere. Radicals must be convinced that capitalism can no longer be reformed but must be overthrown to save humanity and nature!

This means proving to radicals that the only way to fight the TPP is social revolution. The TPP is designed to abolish all national barriers to US monopoly capital. Logically, capital without borders must be fought by workers without borders. We won’t stop the TPP in our parliament because the NACTs have already signed away parliament’s sovereignty and the Labour Party is too gutless to stand up to US and Chinese imperialism to defend the interests of NZ workers. Opposition to the TPP demands the building of international social movements capable of mobilising mass working class power against US and Chinese imperialism. We have to fight all imperialist domination of NZ and refuse to become missile fodder for the US in a war against China. It’s not enough to ‘Keep NZ Nuclear Free’ we have to be ‘For a Nuclear Free Pacific’! But to achieve all this we will need a Workers’ Government that can socialise all the strategic sectors of the economy expropriating both big national as well as foreign capital! 

Marxist Revolution 

To recap, liberals are opposed to the working class joining forces with workers in other countries. They belong to a middle class that benefits from defending the nation state on behalf of capitalism. Radicals have to break out of this liberal trap and return to their historic militancy in staunchly resisting the bosses’ attacks. In fact the workers’ biggest fights in NZ history were international fights. In the period between the 1880s and the 1920s the struggle to unionise and to strike for basic gains were led by internationalists. The 1891 Maritime Strike was in solidarity with Australian workers. The Red Fed was led by recent migrants and many workers who shifted between jobs in NZ, Australia and the US, and were inspired by the IWW (Wobblies) militant struggles. Opposition to the war was led by those who united NZ workers with foreign workers to oppose an imperialist war that divided workers along national lines to kill one another for the profits of the bosses.

But working class opposition to world war was drowned in blood. The radicals and ‘socialists’ did not rise up en masse and mutiny against their imperialist bosses who drove them to the slaughter of the trenches to defend their profits. The Russian Bolsheviks overthrew the ruling class but elsewhere there were no mass Marxist parties capable of giving revolutionary leadership to the armed masses. Without a Marxist international to organise and guide their militancy, the radical masses remained trapped by reactionary bourgeois governments led by treacherous social democrats. Today, to avoid being dragged into World War 3 the spontaneous mass resistance that is breaking out around the world desperately needs a Marxist internationalist party and program that is capable of leading the masses to take power, to put Workers’ Governments in place, and build a world socialist society.

Like Greece today, there is no electoral way to stop NZ’s neo-colonial fate. We can no more legislate to stop the dominance of US and Chinese capital in NZ than we can stop the war in Syria. That rests in the hands of its working people backed by internationalist workers. The global recession we are in will soon become a depression and the trade wars between the US and Russia/China block of imperialist powers are becoming hot wars. Workers of Aotearoa must unite their tiny forces with the massive forces of China, the US and the rest of the world.

The only answer to the TPP as with all imperialist policy that reduces its “partners” to no more than flunkeys (Japan and Australia included) is the rebellion of the workers in these countries, united with the workers in the US and Japan, to throw out all capitalist governments and replace them with governments that represent the interests of the working masses to prevent the destruction of civilisation and nature.

Against monopoly capital’s TPPA we need a Pan Pacific labour United Front!
Build an international strike against the TPPA! 

For a World Party of Socialist Revolution!
For a Workers Government that implements a socialist program!
For a Socialist United States of the Pacific!

A Class Struggle Leaflet published by the Communist Workers Group (Aotearoa/NZ), member of the Liaison Committee of Communists. Mobile 064 0252800080