[Marxism] Anarchists interview New Zealand socialist
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Nov 7 17:09:41 MST 2006
(The preface is by Phil Ferguson, who is a comrade of Daphna
Whitmore, the interviewee.)
Below is an interview with our national secretary, Daphna Whitmore,
that is being run in a Wellington anarchist paper. Daphna comes from
the pro-Mao wing of the party and was general secretary of the
original Workers Party group that Revo fused with. She is a nurse by
training, but currently works as a full-time organiser for the union
Unite (Unite organisers, btw, get minimum wage).
The "Hi Viz" reference refers to our slogan "Making workers' issues
hi-viz". This slogan comes from the fact that, these days, a lot of
blue collar workers (and also some white collar workers) wear day-glo
"hi viz" jackets on the job as a safety thing. Workers call these
jackets "hi viz" or "hi viz jackets" so one of our comrades came up
with the idea of "Making workers' issues hi viz" as a slogan for us.
The "hectic week" Daphna refers to is that Unite has a bunch of
strikes going on in Auckland at present - well, there's scarcely a
week that goes by without some Unite industrial action; they have
about 2 percent of the organised labour force in that union and they
probably make up about 50% of the industrial action of the national
1. What are the main issues facing Aotearoa's working class today?
I'd say the need to fight back against the attacks of the capitalist
class of the past two decades is a number one issue. In this period
the working class lost wages and conditions in jobs; and at the same
time there was also a huge increase in repressive legislation and an
expansion of state power. To turn back these losses requires a big
fightback. Part of that fightback involves developing radical trade
unions, like Unite, and building a political party that represents
It's a process of rebuilding, but let's not just try turning the
clock back to the early eighties. What's needed is a more resilient
movement, one that is completely independent of the capitalist Labour
Party. Making a break from the past means lifting our horizons to
decide that meaningful solutions to the world's problems cannot be
found under capitalism.
2. Should we be focused primarily on Aotearoa's poor, or the Earth's poor?
Both. The two are completely interconnected because capitalism links
all the working people globally. One of the Workers Party's key
demands is for open borders. We want to see workers free to move; to
be unrestricted by employers' attempts to turn on and off the supply
of workers. Capital can flow freely, why can't workers? Recently
the government announced that Pacific Islanders can come to New
Zealand to work in horticulture for 7 months of the year. Then they
must return home. So, these people are just to be used as cheap
labour while being denied the rights of citizens of this
country. People are held in detention for years without charge or
trial for the crime of being Iraqi or Iranian (such as Zaoui and
Yadagarey). Dozens of people are snapped up by immigration and
deported without the right to even gather up their possessions. Great
injustices against humanity are committed in the name of border control.
3. How do you resolve various ideological differences that arise
between Worker's Party members?
Through discussion. We often conduct debates openly. We accept there
are different views among the members, and that people's views also
change over time. What tends to happen is that the various sides of a
debate come closer together because there is an open acceptance of
differences. So there isn't the sense of having to "defend your
corner". We tend to agree a lot on things that are current and relate
to New Zealand. On questions about the past and to a lesser extent on
revolutions overseas there are different views. However, we are very
united around the need for international solidarity, the importance
of exposing the capitalist Labour Party, the need for class struggle
unionism, to name just a few of the key areas of agreement.
4. Is it a help or a hinderance to have both, say, Maoists and
anarchists on the same team?
Depends on what constitutes "the team". The Workers Party doesn't
have any active members who are anarchists that I know of. Nor do any
of us call ourselves Maoists, though some have a lot of respect for
Mao. We also have members who are pro-Trotsky but who don't describe
themselves as Trotskyists.
If the team is a group of people on a demonstration then having
Maoists, anarchists, and various other tendencies is fine.
5. Once capitalism is overthrown, what do you think will replace it?
Socialism. Workers' rule - don't ask me for a blueprint though, that
is up to the people doing the building of socialism. And
unfortunately in New Zealand we are still a long way off from that day.
6. Do you vote in parliamentary elections? If so, for whom and why?
I didn't vote in the last two elections because there were no
anti-capitalist candidates in my electorate. In the 2008 elections
the Workers Party hopes to stand on the party list so our name will
be on every ballot paper.
We stand in elections because of the campaigning opportunities it
offers. It's a chance to spread our anti-capitalist message.We are
currently running a campaign to get 500 members to be eligible for
the party list. The campaign is around making workers issues "high
viz". The campaign uses high visability colours and we have in the
past couple of months gained 100 new members.
7. Is violence an option in your anti-capitalist tactics?
We tend to be against personal violence. The ruling class inflicts
all sorts of violence against the working class, and as yet has shown
no willingness to exit the stage peacefully. That means that armed
revolution remains the right of the working people.
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