Reply to Louis

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at
Mon Sep 27 16:58:11 MDT 1999

Louis writes:
>This goes overboard. It is not "pro-imperialist" to fight to deny US
>warships a port in New Zealand. The students and workers who wanted to
>disassociate New Zealand from the escalating arms race were winnable to
>socialism. Part of Phil's problem is that he fails to see how consciousness
>is changed through mass movements like these. It is very pronounced through
>the Trotskyist movement, which despite lipservice paid to "transitional
>demands" is uncomfortable with the existing mass movements to which such
>demands are addressed. The net result is standing on the sidelines and
>wagging your finger at the tainted Maori nationalists, peace demonstrators,
>gay liberation day marchers, et al. If socialists can not find a way to win
>such people to the Marxist cause, then Marxism really has no value in a
>period like this when the industrial working class is not in motion.

Louis, you have misunderstood my point.  I said the peace movement in NZ
was anti-US imperialism and pro-NZ imperialism.  (The same people who
called for the ban on US warships are the most gung-ho for NZ military
intervention abroad.)
The real test of anyone's anti-imperilaism is not whether they oppose some
other imperialist government but whether they oppose *their own*
imperialist government.

As for Labour, it was easy for the Labour government to ban US nuclear
warships, as well.  One of the people who advocated the ban was Richard
Prebble, one of the most eocnomically right-wing figures in the last Labour
government and currently the leader of ACT (NZ's Hayekian-inspired party).

AS for the little lecture about mass movements and consciousness, I have
been involved in plenty of mass movements.  One of the *conclusions* I have
drawn from concrete involvement is that mass movements do not and cannot in
and of themselves generate anything resembling revolutionary consciousness.

There was a mass movement in Ireland which fought British imperialism for
25 years.  It still did not generate a revolutionary politics anywhere near
sufficient to the task.

In NZ, the 1980s were a period of massive political ferment and mass
movements.  The left here thought that radical consciousness would emerge
spontaneously and basically tail-ended the mass movements.  The result is
that the left is smaller, less relevant and more clapped-out than ever.
And a number of leading protesters of that period are now wealthy,
right-wing political and business figures.  That's the end result of
adopting a laissez-faire attitude in relation to the development of
political consciosuness.

The need today is to draw some lessons from the 1960s and 1970s
single-issue campaign type politics and why, ultimately, they failed.  I
can't imagine you and I ever agreeing on this, so I don't even know if it's
productive for you to have raised it in the context of my comments on East
Timor (which is the context you replied to).  Especially since I never said
it was "pro-imperialist" to call for US warships to be kept out.


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