It's a funny old business, doing the news. All sorts of different organisations send media releases to Craccum, hoping that we will give them some publicity. But sometimes, when we take an interest in one of these organisations, they go all cagey on us.
Take, for example, the Residents Action Movement. They are the people who brought George Galloway all the way from England to talk about "Islamophobia." They were previously known only as a leftist group which had won a seat on Auckland Regional Council in 2004.
We received a media release from RAM (as they like to call themselves) called "RAM stands in council elections." It went on for quite some length but it didn't say much about the elections. Although it said "RAM is fielding a united team of strong candidates," it didn't say who are these candidates or where they are standing.
We needed to know more if we were to run this as a news story. So I contacted Grant Morgan, the Organiser of RAM, and asked him:
How many candidates will RAM be fielding, for which elections?The second question is not strictly related to the first but it is relevant, since Grant Morgan is General Secretary of the SWO; it is widely held by opponents of RAM that they are a front organisation.
Is RAM a front for the Socialist Workers' Organisation?
I received this reply:
In order to reply, I need to know:Well, we didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition. The first question was a little puzzling. Craccum of course is part of a vast conspiracy to take over the world, but don't tell anyone we told you.
1. Are you a front for the Labour Party?
2. When will you get the name of Socialist Worker right?
Mr Morgan's sensitivity about the name of the organisation is understandable; the party's current name is Socialist Worker (Aotearoa/New Zealand). Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, everyone calls his party the Socialist Workers Organisation, the name it had back in the dark days of its past.
The SWO was founded by the merger in 1994 of the Communist Party of New Zealand and the International Socialist Organisation. Mr Morgan was the last General Secretary of the CPNZ. The merger was the end of the CPNZ, which had been founded in 1921, only a few years after the Russian Revolution. Like all other Communist parties, it was obedient to the Soviet Union and worshipped Josef Stalin.
However, the CPNZ did not take a liking to Stalin's successor, Khrushchev; they thought he was a "revisionist," which is the worst insult in Communist circles. So, when the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China fell out in 1961, the CPNZ backed China, unlike every other Communist Party in the world. This was yet another first for New Zealand.
The CPNZ later showed itself to be even more eccentric when China split with Albania. Enver Hoxha, the nondescript little dictator of that nondescript little dictatorship, had condemned China, for being revisionist. The CPNZ agreed. In the opinion of New Zealand's Communists, the only country that was truly Communist was one most people could not find on a map.
Then, in 1993, things became stranger still. The CPNZ, under Mr Morgan's General Secretaryship, then decided that none of the dictatorships that had been the shining future were either shining or the future. They were not even Communist, but State Capitalist. This was an important distinction. The Stalinist CPNZ became Trotskyist: its doctrine was that Socialism had not happened in any of the dictatorships, but was still to come.
The remaining Stalinists left the Party, muttering that it had become a "hidden, fifth-column agent for the class enemy in its massive international campaign to convince the working class that socialism does not work." The next year, the Party gave up altogether and merged with the International Socialist Organisation.
The International Socialist Organisation is international more in theory than in practice. It is based in Dunedin. It also has a branch in Wellington. It was aligned to the Socialist Workers Party, a British organisation which developed the State Capitalism theory. The SWP was not happy having two franchises in New Zealand, so it brought the CPNZ and the ISO together in a shotgun marriage, after which they were known as the SWO.
The marriage did not last. The ISO realised that their new-found colleagues from the CPNZ were not International Socialists at all, but were still Stalinists. So the ISO left and went back to Dunedin. They are still very hurt by the experience. To say the least, they have not moved on.
So, the SWO, which used to be the CPNZ until it joined with the ISO and which used to align itself with Russia, then China, then Albania and which used to be Stalinist but now is Trotskyist, then decided to call itself Socialist Worker (Aotearoa / New Zealand), a snappy title it keeps to this day. In the interests of brevity, we shall call them the Socialist Workers.
Our Socialist Workers are part of the SWP's International Socialist Tendency (IST) which has local organisations in many countries, including Botswana and Norway. They are also crazy about Chavez, believing that the unfolding Venezuelan revolution, if it continues to move in the direction it's currently going, will reshape the socialist and labour movements in every country on every continent, just as the unfolding Bolshevik revolution did from 1917-24. Therefore, rather than looking inwards, the IST needs to be focused outwards towards the most advanced revolutionary upsurge in 90 years and the global socialist regroupments it will inevitably set into motion.
With all these global socialist regroupments going on, you might wonder how Grant Morgan finds time to deal with the Residents Action Movement. You might also be wondering why he has an interest in local government. Traditionally, International Socialists have disdained elections, thinking they are just a means of maintaining the hegemony of the bourgeoisie. But in recent years the SWP has discovered that elections can be quite handy.
This is where George Galloway comes into the story. After Galloway was kicked out of the Labour Party, he won a seat in Parliament for Respect, a political coalition which is dominated by the Socialist Workers Party. Members of the SWP have won seats on local councils as part of Respect. All of a sudden, the International Socialists have discovered the usefulness of democracy.
It is no wonder that the Residents Action Movement was keen to have Galloway come to New Zealand, because they are so similar to Respect. The Socialist Workers in New Zealand, like their equivalents in Britain, have discovered that they can get involved in elections and win them. It is quite a change for these people, who firmly believe in the inevitability of the coming workers' revolution, to be campaigning in local body elections. But they seem to be quite good at it.
It will be interesting to see how RAM prospers in the local body elections. Will they be able to find some candidates? Will they hold on to their seat? Will they win more? Will Grant Morgan become the Hugo Chavez of the Auckland Regional Council? Will the inevitable workers' revolution be brought about by elected councillors on Auckland local bodies? Will cowards flinch and traitors sneer, when the the red flag flies in Aotea Square? We shall see.