the bizarre world of Bob Gould

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Thu Nov 14 18:51:51 MST 2002

I found Jonathan Strauss' post (Digest 5151) and his quotes from Lenin
and Trotsky interesting and helpful.  I think they explain clearly the
need for a specifically revolutionary organisation, which is necessarily
separate from and hostile to reformist parties and show that our
organisational forms today need to return to the example set by Lenin's
Bolsheviks rather than to Marx and the First International with their
all-in approach.

Jonathan also shows that Bob vastly exaggerates Australian Labor Party
opposition to repression new 'anti-terrorist' legislation.  Bob's
exaggerations on this score, as on others, seem necessary to sustain the
dogma that the ALP is still a workers party in any meaningful sense.

Since Bob also appears to view the NZ LP as some kind of workers party,
despite the fact that it is now overwhelmingly funded by the
capitalists, has only three union affiliations and barely a handful of
active worker- members (its class composition being primarily the
liberal middle class), I'd like to relate NZ Labour's stance on this
kind of stuff and some other problems with Bob's 'united front'
proposals with them.

Several years ago, the SIS (NZ's version of ASIO) broke into the home of
a prominent anti-globalisation campaigner in Christchurch, Aziz Choudry.
 Unfortunately for them, they chose the middle fo the day and a mate of
Aziz's turned up to pick up something and caught them.  He thought they
were just thieves and actually managed to grab one of them.  Anyway, it
turned out that they were SIS and, of course, what they were doing was
actually illegal.

There was a National Party government in power at the time so you might
think that Labour, even just to point-score, would be 'outraged' and
make a big fuss.  But no, the response of Labour was to rush to the
media that this showed there was a loophole in the law and powers of the
SIS and new legislation was immediately needed to ensure that future
such break-ins would be legal.  Two previous Labour prime ministers,
David Lange and Sir Geoffrey Palmer (both lawyers by trade, which pretty
much reflects the composition of this awful party), immediately began
beating the drum for new legislation to protect the spooks and their
break-in activities.  Not one Labour MP opposed the new bipartisan
legislation and there was no outburst whatsoever from the ranks of the
party.  Exactly how we would form a united front with this outfit of
SIS-supporters remains a mystery!

Similarly, with the war on terror.  Labour has been in power here since
1999.  It was Labour who introduced the motion in parliament last year
giving "full support" for George Bush and whatever he decided to do.
Not one single Labour MP voted against this.  The only people who voted
against were the Greens, who had 7 MPs (and who now have 9, winning two
more in the July elections).  (These terrible Greens must also be wild
ultralefts coz they spend a great deal of time attacking Labour and
refused to make an electoral pact with Labour before the last elections,
so I expect Bob to be giving Steve Painter a big ticking off about
belonging to the Greens in Oz as I understand they don't do united front
work with the ALP but spend a fair bit of time attacking it.)

Anyway, all this means that even with the help of a bloody great
telescope we simply would not be able to find any worker-militants, or
even any genuine radicals, in the NZ LP to do 'united front' work with.
Since the 'war on terror' began there has been only one dissident voice
in the LP here, a young guy who was some MP's electorate chair and who
was quickly ejected from the LP for daring to criticise the Great
Leader, Helen Clark.  All else is silent in the LP.

Now when Labour is running capitalism here and is involved in
imperialist war abroad, all without any rebellion at all in its ranks -
not even a murmur - the perspective of a 'united front' with LPers is
just plain bizarre.  It bears no relation at all to reality.

Another example of how way out, and out of touch, such an approach is.
At present, we are looking at establishing a political centre in the
middle of the electorate where we ran in the July elections.  One of the
first things we'd do locally is work towards establishing an
anti-poverty campaign in the community.  Who would this anti-poverty
campaign inevitably be directed against?  Well, the local MP is a member
of the Labour government and Labour is in power, helping keep people
poor, so, of course, it would be directed against the Labour Party.  Far
from inviting the local Labour MP onto our platform so she can pretend
she gives a hoot about poverty, we will working towards a community
occupation of this yuppie's local office.

I should point out here that a couple of decades ago, 3 percent of the
NZ population owned 20 percent of the wealth of the country; after the
last Labour government (1984-90) had done its redistributive work, the
top three percent owned 37 percent of the wealth.  So Labour oversaw the
richest people in the country almost doubling their share of the
country's wealth.  Last year, under Labour, the richest 100 folk in the
country, on the NZ Rich List, increased their wealth by 17 percent while
real wages increased by 0.1 percent and Labour opposed raising social
welfare benefits even back to 1990 levels (they were cut by about 25
percent in 1991 and have never been restored).

It is impossible to fight for even the most basic democratic rights -
like the right not to have your house legally broken into by the spooks
- and the most basic living standards for the poorest members of society
- eg for benefit levels to be raised even as modestly as to retyurn them
to 1990 levels - without attacking Labour and attacking them explicitly
and attacking them hard.

Bob's propagandising for a 'united front' is not a way to undermine
Labur, it is a way to allow some people in Labour to *maintain* the
fiction that Labour is some kind of left party or some kind of party
that serves working class interests.  It is an approach which protects
rather than undermines Labour.  And it is an approach which sees Bob
sticking Labour's pro-capitalist programme through people's letter boxes
at election time and handing out their how-to-vote cards outside the
polling booth.  When Labour parties fail to enthuse workers to do this,
they can, I guess, draw some satisfaction that they have some
'revolutionaries' to do this work anyway.

Philip Ferguson

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