[Marxism] Anarchists interview New Zealand socialist

Louis Proyect 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 
labour force.

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 
workers' interests.

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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