Thailand is currently in crisis, with a deformed expression of class struggle occurring between one side that wears yellow shirts and another that wears red. How can we make sense of this situation, and what is the way forward for those of us interested in the interests of the poor and working class? John Moore, formerly a resident in Thailand, and now a Workers Party activist, argues that the Thai working class is a mass force that has yet to roar, but that the small radical element amongst them shouldn’t ‘give up the bullet for the ballot’ to reform Thai society through the Thai capitalist state.
The Spark November 2008
The Workers Party is primarily an organisation of activists who fight for workers’ interests on jobs and in the streets. We recognise that the struggle for workers’ rights and workers’ power mostly takes place outside of parliament. Taking mass actions against an employer offers workers more chance of controlling their destiny than voting. However, parliamentary elections provide a chance to raise alternative ideas, and socialists should make use of the opportunity. The reports below show some of the initiatives taken by the Workers Party in the 2008 general election. You can see that we got stuck in and stood up for socialist ideas without mincing our words. If you like the look of our approach, why not join us and help make the socialist voice even louder in 2011!
- Philip Ferguson
One thing the election and the days since have confirmed is the inability of many on the left to make a sober analysis based on reality and, in particular, the way in which bourgeois politics is related to the economy and how bourgeois politics is centrally concerned with the maintenance of conditions such as social stability which are necessary to the operations of the market. Instead much of the left has cried wolf about the new government, seeing it as a re-run of the 1984-1993 period of ‘new right’ dominance.
For instance, the headline on the Socialist Aotearoa blog is “RESISTING THE NAT-ACT JUNTA- What is to be done?” Does the author of that piece really believe that we are about to be ruled by a “junta”? Are they unable to distinguish between bourgeois democracy and military dictatorship? If they are able to make the distinction why use terminology that bears no relation to the reality and simply misleads and misorients people?
Although, in the context of a worsening economic situation, there would certainly have to be attacks on the working class, Key is not creating a junta of any kind. In fact, he appears to not even be creating a National-ACT coalition but opting for Clark’s own strategy - a minority government with ministers out of cabinet from what he sees as both the ‘left’ (Maori Party) and ‘right’ (ACT) and support on confidence and supply. The temptation for the Maori Party to go for this will likely be pretty substantial, as Key and co. well know. This was apparent before the election - and was reiterated by Key on Saturday night, by Matthew Hooton on ‘Eye to Eye’ on Sunday morning, by Key again on TV on Sunday night and Monday night. In fact, Key even wants to talk with the Greens. (Since this was written on Monday 11 November, things have moved along further with the Maori Party.) Read the rest of this entry »
- Nick Kelly
So-called ‘from the left’ political commentator Chris Trotter posed the following question to his post election column in the Sunday Star times:
“What led the majority of the New Zealand electorate to reject a government that has not only done it no great harm but might even be said to have done it some good?”
The answer according to Trotter is this:
Last night’s result was manufactured out of the besetting sin of the last 150 years of western history - the crisis of masculinity. What, exactly, is a man in a world of corporate and public bureaucracies?
It was these: the men who just couldn’t cope with the idea of being led by an intelligent, idealistic, free-spirited woman; the gutless, witless, passionless creatures of the barbecue-pit and the sports bar (and the feckless females who put up with them); who voted Helen Clark out of office
Left: Young workers, led by Unite union protesting against youth rates under Labour.
Racism is a product of class oppression; the two are fundamentally connected. The Workers Party acknowledges the history of African American struggle which has resulted in the election of Barack Obama.
The vast majority of African Americans remain wage earners. Obama is considering Lawrence Summers as head of Treasury. Former head of the World Bank, Summers supported dumping toxic waste on Africa.
November 7, 1917 is the day the working class in the Soviet Union seized power. It marked a turning point in world history, and despite the reversals nothing can diminish the significance of that day.
There are a number of people who identify as socialist but will tomorrow vote for capitalist parties because they see that as the only realistic thing to do. Of course, if you vote for the status quo you’ll be stuck with it.
Why not vote for something you actually believe in.
(Wellington Central WP candidate Don Franks’ opening 5 minute address to Karori community election meeting 24/09/08)
Good evening folks, thanks for inviting me to your election meeting here in the pleasant surroundings of Karori. I was brought up in a similar nice suburb on the other side of Wellington, over in Eastbourne. There, at Sunday school, I used to love singing the children’s hymn “All things bright and beautiful”. I still recall all the words, including the closing verse: The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, He made them high and lowly and ordered their estate. I now realise that the song wasn’t really a cute child’s fancy, but a self-serving reactionary political statement.
- Eli Boulton
Much has been made about Barack Obama’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the last remaining Democratic primaries of the United States election year. Numerous capitalist media outlets hailed the outcome as a “tremendous step” for civil rights, while right-wing smear attacks centred on his supposed links with communism or radical Islam (due to his Arabic middle name). Many newspapers have said how Obama’s candidacy has given hope not only to Americans, but to many people all over the world, since Obama is “for the people”.
However, if you go scrape away his populist rhetoric, you will find a very different image of the man.
- Alastair Reith
In the past month or so, elections took place in three very different countries, far away from one another, with distinctly different languages, cultures and histories. These countries did have some things in common. All were all poor, third-world countries, whose people live in poverty and oppression, and they all voted against the regimes and systems they currently live under.
- Alastair Reith
Leader of the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai
On 29 March 2008, the people of Zimbabwe went to the polls to vote in the parliamentary and presidential elections, and on the future of their impoverished country.
There was world-wide interest in the elections and a great deal of media coverage. These elections were seen as crucial in determining whether President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party would maintain their 28-year hold on power, or whether the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would take their place.
The elections were marred by violent clashes between the supporters of various parties and factions, and were carried out in an atmosphere of extreme tension.
Official results began to trickle in on March 31. By April 2 all the results for the lower House of Assembly had been declared, with the majority faction of the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, winning 99 seats, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF winning 97, the minority MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara winning 10 seats, and one independent.
This was the first time since the end of white minority rule that Mugabe’s party had not held a majority, and it showed the level of dissatisfaction with him that exists in Zimbabwe.