The Socialist Equality Group (New Zealand) invites readers of the World Socialist Website list to attend our upcoming webinar, to be held at Zoom on Sunday 8 November at 16:00 New Zealand time, on the results of New Zealand’s election.
Speakers from the SEG and the International Committee of the Fourth International will discuss the right-wing agenda of the re-elected Labor Party and the need for a new socialist and internationalist party. They will refute the fraudulent claims made by the corporate media and pseudo-left that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government represents a better and progressive alternative to far-right governments in other countries.
The meeting will examine the context in which the elections are taking place: the unprecedented crisis of global capitalism triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. A new wave of class struggle is erupting, in response to more than a million deaths and mass impoverishment, caused by governments prioritizing the benefits of big business over life and human well-being.
The government responded to the left working class movement with authoritarian methods of government and by encouraging fascist forces. Donald Trump’s threat to use such force to stage a coup in the US is just the most striking example of this universal trend.
New Zealand is in no way separate from this development. The Ardern government has transferred tens of billions of dollars to big businesses and banks. New Zealand companies are undergoing a vicious restructuring, sacking tens of thousands of workers. Unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and inequality surged to levels not seen in the post-World War II period.
Following the Christchurch massacre in 2019, the Labor-led government has stepped up its efforts to deflect anger over the social crisis by scapegoating immigrants and fomenting nationalism. It also strengthens New Zealand’s alliance with US imperialism, as Washington prepares for war against targets including Iran, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela and China.
A re-elected government, in which Labor has the majority of parliamentary seats, will deepen right-wing attacks. Trade unions and pseudo-left organizations are trying to obscure this reality and to disarm the workers by sowing illusions in the Labor and Green Parties.
These illusions will be shattered by the reality of inequality and worsening social reactions. The working class and the youth will fight, as they have done for the last three years, against austerity, police brutality and militarism. But this struggle cannot continue without a clear socialist perspective and leadership, completely independent of all the capitalist parties, the trade union bureaucracy and their defenders of the false left.
The Socialist Equality Group (SEG), a supporter of New Zealand’s Fourth International Committee (ICFI), held a public webinar last Saturday to discuss the upcoming October 17 elections. The event was attended by an international audience including SEG supporters and readers World Socialist Website from New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
SEG member Matthew Carrington, who chaired the meeting, noted that the elections were held amid an unprecedented collapse of capitalism, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than a million people worldwide. Although the international media praised New Zealand under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s rule, the standard of living of the working class is collapsing, while the rich have been bailed out with tens of billions of dollars.
Speakers noted that the webinar took place one day after the relaunch of WSWS, during which ICFI seeks to raise the political awareness of a large number of workers and young people who are increasingly interested in socialism.
The first speaker, SEG member John Braddock, described ICFI’s analysis of the pandemic as a “trigger event” in world history, which has exacerbated social crises around the world, sparked class struggle and the preparation of ruling elites for war and dictatorships.
The crisis centers on the United States, where President Donald Trump has threatened a coup if he loses the November election. “However these developments are ultimately in play,” explains Braddock, “the democratic crisis in Washington will move to the international stage. What’s happening in the US is the sharpest expression of what’s happening everywhere – New Zealand included. “
Contrary to media portrayals of New Zealand as a haven of peace and tranquility, New Zealand is an ally of the US and Ardern has deepened its integration into war preparations against China. Braddock pointed out that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government “is itself a product of US intervention after the 2017 elections.”
During protracted coalition talks, US ambassador Scott Brown publicly criticized the ruling National Party for failing to fully support Trump’s threat to “crush” North Korea. Afterward, the nationalist and anti-immigrant NZ First Party announced it would form a coalition with Labor, not the National Party, which received more votes. Labor and NZ First share the same anti-immigrant and anti-Chinese political orientation, while the National Party represents big business factions that are much more nervous about alienating New Zealand’s biggest trading partner, China.
Carolyn Kennett of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) and the Committee on Public Education, spoke at the webinar on the struggles of growing workers internationally, including school and university staff.
Kennett explains that the government, whose only concern is big business profits, is recklessly reopening schools before it is safe to do so to force parents to return to their workplaces. In the US and other countries, he said, teachers “are developing not only their classroom lessons but also their will and wills in preparation for their possible death with COVID-19.”
He pointed to some of the struggles that have taken place in response to this assassination policy, including the occupation of 700 schools by secondary school students in Greece, which demands security precautions before schools reopen.
Kennett explains that the union bureaucracy at Australian universities cooperates fully with mass layoffs and cuts in wages. The same process is taking place in the UK, New Zealand and internationally.
ICFI, he said, “calls for the creation of an independent rank and file committee of trade unions to fight for a united national struggle against attacks on jobs, salaries and conditions, and to ensure the health, safety and welfare of workers.
“Such committees have been formed in cities in the United States, in Germany and Britain, and in Australia. Much has been formed by educators who are deeply concerned with reopening schools, but there are also a number of committees based in other factories and industries, such as the auto industry in the US and among bus drivers in London. “
In a final speech from the Socialist Equality Group Tom Peters reviewed the records of the far-right Ardern government and exposed its lies about reducing poverty and inequality. In the June quarter average income was 7.6 percent lower than a year earlier. Nearly 80,000 people have lost their jobs since March. One in four children live in poverty and demand for food banks is soaring.
The speaker described the heinous anti-immigrant actions taken in response to the pandemic and social crisis, including the threat of deportation and the prohibition of access to the welfare of migrant workers. Peters pointed out that one of the most brutal right-wing terrorist attacks in the world, last year’s mass shooting in Christchurch, was not discussed in the election campaign. This is because shooter Brenton Tarrant’s fascist ideology has been fueled by decades of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the demonization of Muslims and immigrants with which every major party in Australia and New Zealand is involved.
Peters concludes: “These elections will not solve any of the pressing problems facing the working people. We are in a period of revolutionary history. The alternatives are: the intensification of the present crisis – world wars, dictatorships, runaway pandemics and catastrophic climate change – or the revolutionary struggle to abolish capitalism and build international socialism. There is no reformist alternative. “
He urged those present to make a decision to join in the struggle to build the SEG into New Zealand’s part of the world Trotskyist movement.
The audience received a warm welcome from the meeting. One participant, an immigrant who is one of thousands waiting to find out if they will be allowed to stay in New Zealand, wrote on the NZ Migrants Facebook forum praising the webinar. He encourages people to read WSWS including Tom Peters’ articles “about immigrants and our troubles … People like him are our voices when no one wants to hear our pleas.”
The speech was followed by several questions, including about the militarization of the police under Ardern, the workers’ struggle against layoffs, and the strategies needed to prevent a world war.
In response to a question about whether the SEG would consider allying with any party that is in the struggle for socialism, Braddock replied: “The answer is simply no.” Every established party accepts that the working class must pay through austerity measures, he said. These include quasi-left organizations such as the International Socialist Organization, Socialist Aotearoa and others that have spent years promoting the Labor and Green Parties.
Cheryl Crisp, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), spoke at the end of the discussion. He stressed the need for New Zealand workers to “turn to international parties,” and to reject the nationalist “fantasy” of the Labor Party and trade unions that the country had escaped the worst effects of the crisis – a conception also being promoted in Australia. New Zealand workers, he said, have “more in common” with workers in other countries than do New Zealand capitalists and their political parties. On that basis he asked workers to join SEG and ICFI.
Public gathering: New Zealand’s COVID elections, the breakdown of capitalism and the struggle for socialism
By Socialist Equality Group (New Zealand)
28 September 2020
Socialist Equality Group (New Zealand) will hold a public online meeting, throughZoom in, in Saturday October 3rd at 4:00 p.m.pm NZ time to discuss the coming elections, the breakdown of capitalism and the socialist and internationalist perspectives that the working class should adopt.
The global COVID-19 pandemic, which is looming over elections, has the character of a “trigger event” in world history: it has greatly accelerated the process of widening social inequality, the push by the ruling class towards dictatorship and world wars. In the United States, Trump has threatened to ignore the November election results, stage a coup, and launch fascist violence against the working class.
The unfavorable conditions created by capitalism pushed millions into mass protests and strikes, which were further sparked by outrage at the government’s criminal negligence that has caused nearly a million deaths from the coronavirus worldwide.
New Zealand is by no means an exception. Contrary to global media acclaim for Labor Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, she heads a right-wing coalition government with the Green Party and extreme nationalist NZ First, which oversees rising inequality and poverty. Workers have responded with a series of strikes including by teachers, nurses and health workers, and mass protests against inaction over climate change and police killings.
The government’s primary response to the pandemic and economic crisis has been the unprecedented transfer of tens of billions of dollars to the rich in the form of quantitative easing, bailouts, tax breaks and salary subsidies for businesses.
Billions continue to flow into the military to enhance, expand and integrate into the US-led war plan against China. Meanwhile, basic services, including hospitals, underfunded and unemployment skyrocketed to levels not seen in generations.
To divert anger over the social crisis, the government has blamed immigrants. Cabinet ministers have been spewing racist filth echoing the manifesto of the fascist terrorists who killed 51 people in Christchurch – atrocities sparked by decades of demonization of Muslims and other immigrants and successive government participation in the US criminal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Elections won’t solve anything. In their campaign, the opposition Labor Party and National Party, along with smaller parties, tried to cover up their real agenda with fraudulent empty words about creating jobs and reviving the economy. Whoever wins, the next government will step up attacks on workers’ living standards, attack democratic rights and step up preparations for war.
The workers and young people will inevitably be pushed into the revolutionary struggle. But this movement must be guided by a new perspective and leadership, independent from, and against, all established parties. Its conscious goal must be the formation of a workers’ government, the abolition of the profit system and the struggle for international socialism.
The Socialist Equality Group, a supporter of New Zealand’s Fourth International Committee, urges workers, students, youth and readers of the WSWS to listtoattend our public meeting to discuss this very important issue.