Thursday, March 20, 2014
Vanguard, not Mudguard- the Future of the Mana Movement.
I'm opposed to Mana joining any capitalist government. Now, does that sound likely in the near future? Well, some people in the left are starting to use the phrase "Labour-Greens-Mana Government" a little bit too loosely, before such a concept has been floated, never mind voted on, by the grassroots of the Movement. Mana has only been around for three years, yet we have helped push politics to the Left in Auckland. Whether fighting the evictions in Glen Innes, supporting young McDonald's workers on strike in Manurewa, stopping the motorway from destroying thousands of homes in Mangere or helping organise the Aotearoa is Not for Sale street movement against privatisation and asset sales, Mana's power lies in it being a street fighting force, an independent movement that gathers all those forces who want resistance and radical system change. The experience of the local elections in Auckland shows that where we tie electoral campaigning with people power, like we did in Mangere, we became a left wing alternative to the Labour party, gaining thousands of votes and coming a credible second. If the Greens liberally use the word "smart", then we should reclaim the adjective "socialist". Mana unapologetically puts forward solid socialist demands. Full employment and jobs for all, starting with a massive programme building quality, healthy State Housing. Free public transport in major cities to end gridlock and alleviate climate change. Free Education for All, from Playcentre to University, and abolish the naked intergenerational theft that is artifically created student debt. Free broadband on demand with no data caps, and defending the digital commons from the corporates and the spooks. Feeding all the children of the nation at school so that poverty statistics are no excuse for hunger. All to be funded by freeing up some of the $22 billion accrued by ACC, and of course, taxing the rich until they squeak. I think Mana is winning an argument on the Left. Why else would David Cunliffe invite my good comrade Matt McCarten to be his Chief of Staff? When Matt stood as a left wing independent in the Mana by election, down in Porirua, his arguments for a Living Wage and a $15 minimum wage were seen as too radical. A year later, it was Labour policy for the general election. His appointment by Cunliffe was surprising, but shows that people within Labour are eager to build a serious movement to defeat John Key, and fight for some tangible reforms that working people need. However, I believe we should maintain our independence and our Tino Rangatiratanga. Before I came to Aotearoa, I played an active role in building large social movements, in particular against capitalist globalisation and against war with Iraq. The radical left expanded in many countries during these years, and many socialists helped to create New Left Parties across Europe. Six socialist members of the Scottish Parliament were elected. In Ireland, five socialist TDs were elected to the Dail. IN Germany, the radical left Die Linke party led the street resistance to both Christian and Social Democratic attacks on workers. But most impressive of all were the Italian comrades of Refondazione Comunista, who grew to a mass party of 300,000 cadre, who led the Battle of Genoa against the globalisation of the G8, hosted the 60,000 delegate strong conference of the European Social Forum, which organised a million strong march against war at its end, and agreed on the date of 15th Feb 2003 as the day to mobilise against the war. On that day, an estimated 40 million people marched across the cities of the World.
Refondazione Comunista attracted millions of votes, and saw scores of their MPs elected. Italian politics saw Berlusconi shake and quiver, and the argument for Refondazione to join an alternative Government was deafening. They did. And like the Alliance in New Zealand, they were ripped apart within the space of a year, not only by a huge sell out that saw them support sending troops to Afghanistan, but also by their attempts to demobilise the movement from below against neoliberalism and the system. Within the space of 18 months, they had destroyed the hard work of decades, and the Italian left still suffers from their destruction. A radical left wing party that is captured in a coalition with Social democracy signs its own suicide note. Social democratic parties profess reforms, but they are committed to managing the capitalist system, not replacing it. You cannot do both. Mana will be more effective as an independent, left wing force outside government, pushing Labour and the Greens leftward where successful, organising resistance against any cutbacks and attacks where necessary. It should not sacrifice this Tino for the sake of being a 2 or 3 MP strong mudguard. We should be in the vanguard instead.
Socialist Aotearoa and Mana (Owairaka)