Maori Workers, their Past and Immediate Future.

By Richard Stone, RCIT Aotearoa /New Zealand, 07.10.2016, https://revcomnz.com/

Since 2008, workers have had to endure the slow grinding gears of the capitalist machine churn them into grease for those very wheels of capital determined to keep captive the greatest organised power capable of building a new society and a new people free from the chains of imperialism.
While this war continues, the ruling classes are getting fatter and greedier from the blood and sweat of the worlds workers and peasants. Here in Aotearoa / New Zealand, Maori workers in particular are literally dying under the jackboot of the capitalist state. This brutal reality is rooted back to the 4th labour Government of the 1980’s as it hand in hand with international capital opened Aotearoa / New Zealand up to the world economy. The Welfare state was declared an enemy once and for all. Protectionism was ripped away over night and workers were told by the government and trade union bureaucrats to pull their socks up and get “competitive”.
Primary industries of which a large proportion of it’s labour force were Maori were decimated. The generations of people who worked in forestry, in fisheries and farming, on the wharfs and in warehouses were chucked on the unemployment line as the bosses went about restructuring. Those once proud workers of Forest Products who eagerly read the status of the company shares in the New Zealand Herald, were now at home counting the coins to determine if they pay the rent or feed their kids.

Class Polarisations between the Maori

In the 1990s Maori workers were spun the myth that Treaty/crown Settlements would enhance their lives. That their spiritual and material lives would be enhanced as the crown finally acknowledged the wrongs of the past. This clearly was nothing but a modern mythology. Large layers of the Maori elites joined hands with the ruling classes and went about creating a “brown table”. They held meetings (hui) around the country begging Maori workers to be patient. That a Maori business model needed to be created. And then to expect a trickle down and too finally enjoy some material advantages. Fast forward to 2016.
Workers haven’t recovered to anywhere near where they were prior to the 1980s. Maori workers in particular still have knifes in their backs and are falling further and further behind Pakeha (Maori word for non-Maori people) brothers and sister. Parents who once counted coins to either pay the rent or feed the kids, those kids have grown up and are now living with their families in cars because they don’t have the choice of even choosing between rent or food.
Thankfully working class Maori are finally seeing what these Crown settlements really meant – the creation of a Maori bourgeoisie. For example, the Ngati Whatua ki Orakei – which settled with the government just four years ago for $18 million – now has an asset base in excess of $767 million, after earlier having $500 million in land assets. Waikato – Tainui did a deal for $170 million with the crown in 1995, now they have an asset base of $1.1 billion. They can even boast ownership of New Zealand’s largest shopping centre.
The Maori economy is doing well! Thank you very much. All estimates say it has a shared wealth of $40 billion, with ironically its biggest investments in fishing, forestry and farming industries.
But what political leadership for Maori? The Maori party / National party coalition offered nothing for workers. The Maori fat cats continue to feast while more and more Maori workers have no choice but to live in the backseats of cars in garages or on the streets. The trickle down argument hasn’t worked for them.
The Labour Party lost support in its traditional areas to the extent that it polled only at 24% at the last general election. Maori workers knew Labour offered them nothing. Labour too had knifed the working class many times in the back. They hadn’t forgotten this. This is why in droves they turned to Mana since the Mana Party was talking about class politics for a change and produced a set of demands workers could rally around.
The Mana Party consistent to a social democracy model broke away to rattle the chains around workers in general and Maori workers in particular. They highlighted the immediate concerns of working people to a level the Maori Party never had the guts to do. Despite these urgent issues the Mana Party proved incapable of continuing to grow.

New Period

This is precisely why the RCIT has attracted some militants. Militants who recognise we are in a “new historical period” of the capitalist system. A period where militants must hone their skills and fight for the leadership of the working class. Militants who can correctly apply the Marxist method and come to grips of the reality facing workers. This is a period that demands great courage – why?
Because those class conscience workers who are engaged in struggle could fall for the safe single campaigns run by the Dunedin based International Socialist Organisation and the Auckland based Socialist Aotearoa. These two groups are impotent in the class struggle. Their legacies are ones of failures and ultimately they want to tie the workers to a reformist mentally while praying for a spontaneous uprising. Capitalism cannot be reformed! Capitalism needs to be overthrown.
Like the scurrying of little rats running up a drain pipe, a class conscious worker might here the rattle of keyboards as a pitiful group of activists conduct campaigns for blog sites waiting for a vanguard of workers to fall from the sky so they can lead them. To be revolutionary you must do more than advocate Revolution as a great idea. The RCIT knows that a revolution corresponded to the essential needs of the working class. There is no guaranteed right to work with a living wage under capitalism – as many workers are finally realising. There is no guarantee that workers will have the right to housing or to health care. Consistent Marxist revolutionaries link these basic essentials to the need for a revolution through our program. This unfortunately both the ISO and Socialist Aotearoa do not have.
These activists/blogists as we have highlighted complain that the workers and oppressed today are not revolutionary. The problem here is these individuals and groups have not linked their organisations to their revolutionary desire to the basic needs that face the workers and people in struggle. And equally appalling, they have not put forward a revolutionary program.
The RCIT has the courage to arm workers with a program. We have the continuity of a revolutionary history that is tired and tested in the furnace of the international class struggle.
Join us! For socialism!

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