To make revolution and put an end to capitalism, the working class and oppressed peoples must have a clear strategic plan. They must determine what the nature of the struggle is, who are the main enemies and who are friends that can be rallied to the cause.
Standing in the way of social progress and socialism in Aotearoa is the domestic capitalist class and foreign imperialism. In making the socialist revolution, the domestic capitalist class is our main enemy. It is the ruling class. It holds state power and is principally responsible for the hardships facing our people. While attacking the entire capitalist class, we must direct the main blow against the leading and dominant core - the monopoly capitalists. But we cannot succeed unless we also attack the secondary enemy - foreign imperialism.
The monopoly capitalists are composed of the top owners and administrators of the large New Zealand-based multinational corporations that control the economic life of Aotearoa. Their power extends beyond the boundaries of the country to control the destiny of thousands of others, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region. Immediately serving and protecting this class are highly paid managers, executives and advisers. Altogether, the number of individuals responsible for monopoly capitalism comprise less than 2% of the entire population.
Against this minority stands the vast majority of the rest of the population. The conditions of life for 98% of the people cannot fundamentally improve without the overthrow of the ruling class of monopoly capitalists.
The largest and most resolute opponent of the monopoly capitalists is the working class. The working class is daily thrown into conflict with the capitalist class. Because of its social position, it is the most revolutionary class and will be the principal and leading force in the socialist revolution in Aotearoa. Within the ranks of the working class, it is the industrial workers who have proven to be the most resolute and consistent fighters.
The monopoly capitalists are a powerful enemy and it will require protracted efforts to overthrow them. But there is a potentially much more powerful force opposing them: a united front of the vast majority of people in Aotearoa and the people in other countries oppressed by New Zealand capital. This united front is the basic approach to ending monopoly capitalism and attaining socialism.
The groups that comprise the united front have many different interests and concerns. But what unites them all is their objective opposition to monopoly capitalism in Aotearoa. The working class needs a strong revolutionary alliance with all the various classes and strata against monopoly capitalism. Only by isolating our enemies to the maximum and winning over all those who are oppressed by capital to the banner of socialism can the working class succeed in overthrowing capitalism.To forge this united front, we must understand who are our friends and who are our enemies. This requires an analysis of the different classes in Aotearoa.
The Classes in Aotearoa
The most fundamental of all human activities is material production. If we did not produce, we could not live - politics, law, religion, philosophy, literature, recreation would all be impossible if we didn't have food to eat and shelter over our heads.For this reason the method of organising production has long been the most contentious of all problems faced by society. Society is characterised by the division of people into classes according to their role in the production and distribution of social wealth.
In Aotearoa, as in any capitalist society, the capitalist class and the working class are the two basis classes. The capitalist class owns the means of production and holds state power. The working class is the main and leading force in the revolutionary struggle. Between the two is a complex petty bourgeoisie (middle class).
The Capitalist Class
The capitalists are the ruling class in Aotearoa. They are the our main enemy in the fight for socialism. Through their ownership and control of the means of production they control the economic life of Aotearoa and live off the profits they squeeze from the working class. Through the National and Labour parties the capitalist class uses the government for its own ends.
The capitalist class includes the owners of factories, mills, mines, transport firms, real estate, large forms, large trading firms, the top managers and directors of the big corporations, and the highest capitalist politicians, state functionaries and officers of the armed forces.
The capitalist class makes up only three or four percent of the population. Of these only a handful belong to the monopoly capitalist class which, if families are included, numbers little more than 20,000. Through its control of the decisive sectors of the economy, the monopoly capitalists make the decisions which affect the whole of society.
For all its power, the capitalist class is not a totally united class. There are divisions between domestic and foreign capital, between monopoly and non-monopoly capital, between state and private capital. Foreign capital owns outright the majority of large corporations, banks and insurance companies, most of the transport and communications and much of the forestry industries. The non-monopoly capitalists do not have the international power of the monopolists but still exert considerable economic and political influence. Some of the large capitalists of the oppressed nationalities are in this strata.
The Petty Bourgeoisie
Between the capitalist class and the working class lies a large and varied middle class, called the petty bourgeoisie. It is composed of people who have some independent means of livelihood such as a small store, or those who have special technical or creative skills that they control and sell.
The petty bourgeoisie is a very unstable class. While they class generally have more security in their lives than the working clam, they are constantly threatened with ruin, or find their skills no longer in demand. Many face being driven down into the working class while a few succeed in scrambling up into the ranks of the capitalists. The individualistic mentality of "being your own boss" pervades the petty bourgeoisie.
In prosperous times it forms a very important social base for capitalism. In times of economic and political crisis, the petty bourgeoisie splits: some of its members side with the working class, seeking social change, while others go to extremes in their support of capitalism. Fascist movements draw their mass base from members of the petty bourgeoisie terrified by economic crisis and socialism alike.
The petty bourgeoisie consists of around 100,000 small employers, 175,000 self-employed and 200,000 managers and professionals. The petty bourgeoisie is divided into three main strata, distinguished by their incomes, working and living conditions, and social status.
The lowest strata includes self-employed shop owners, fishing people, artists, most teachers, craftspeople, family farmers, independent drivers and contractors. With incomes seldom greater than ordinary workers and working long hours to stay afloat, they can be won to the side of socialist revolution.
The middle strata includes semi-professionals, middle managers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, scientists, some teachers and medium sized farmers and small employers. Their standard of living is a lot higher than the working class and many of them (owning their own businesses) enjoy hidden incomes in the form of tax rebates and business cars. Socially, a lot of these people mix with the capitalist class, and while a few can be won to the side of socialism, most can be neutralised at best.
The upper strata consists of the elite of the professionals, large farmers, managers, top civil servants and the best off of the self-employed and small employers. This group will largely support the capitalist class since they are close to it and enjoy the rewards of power. Few will support the struggle for socialism.
The Working Class
The working class is the principal and leading force in the struggle for socialism in Aotearoa. The working class is composed of all wage-earners - mental and manual, urban and rural - whether in basic industry, manufacturing, service, farm, sales, domestic, clerical, public or other jobs. The working class is composed of skilled and unskilled, employed and unemployed. Some workers earn more money than some in the petty bourgeoisie, but they are still members of the working class because they do not exploit the labour of others and must sell their labour power to survive.
The working class comprises 1.4 million wage workers and their families, more than 75% of the population. industrial workers (in forestry, fishing, mining, manufacturing, energy and construction) make up over 35% of wage workers, around 500,000 workers; less than 25,000 workers, 2%, are rural labourers. Another 400,000 workers are employed in trade and transport, 160,000 in finance and 400,000 in government and social services. Around 250,000 workers, 10% of the working aged population, are officially unemployed or 'jobless'. Around 400,000 workers are retired and 175,000 people are engaged in full time child core, 100,000 supported by the Domestic Purposes Benefit. Wage workers were organised in 58 unions in 1992,13 with more than 10,000 members and 32 with less than 5,000 members.
Of the various types of workers, it is the industrial work force which is the most determined and resolute fighter in the struggle for socialists revolution. Industrial workers produce most of the material wealth Concentrated at the point of production in the large work places, subject to the discipline of the production line and the bosses. Their bitter experience has made the industrial working class the best organised section of the working class. They have always led the way in the battles with the employers and the state - in the mines and freezing works, pulp mills and factories.
Despite its huge numerical advantage, the powerful potential of the working class in Aotearoa has been frustrated by internal divisions and limited development of class consciousness.
A small number of advanced workers see the need for fundamental change and want to bring this about. They are often leaders of struggle and are open to the path of socialism and revolution. These workers tend to be found among the lower paid, less skilled and more oppressed strata of the working class. They have fewer illusions about the nature of society in Aotearoa. Many Maori, Pacific Island and women workers are in this group.
The majority of workers at this time do not understand the need for fundamental change to society. They have difficult lives but do not see how their problems can be resolved. They want an improvement in their lives and often struggle against their employers, but do not yet see the need for revolutionary change.
There are also backward workers who are generally content with their situation or feel that, even though things could improve, monopoly capitalism is the best system. They do not favour change and many are affected by racism and male chauvinism. These backward workers normally agree with the capitalist class on major domestic and foreign policy issues.
The labour aristocracy is a section of the working class with high wages and privileges, drawn from the highly skilled and the trade union bureaucracy, is a pillar of support for the capitalist class. The labour aristocracy materially benefits from imperialism and the suppression of the majority of the working class. While relatively small in number, this strata has influence far beyond its size through its control of much of the trade union apparatus and its influence in the Labour party, and the Liberal party before that. It is a major obstacle to the struggle for socialism and tries to lead the working class along a path that is acceptable to the ruling class.
With the help of advanced workers and communists, more and more of the majority of workers will become politically conscious and understand the need for revolutionary socialism. Through well-organised struggle and education, independent of the labour aristocracy, workers will realise that their interests lie in the overthrow of capitalist private property and the establishment of socialism.
The Strategic Alliance
The working class, because of its centrality to the process of production, is the most revolutionary class in Aotearoa and will be the principle and leading force of the socialist revolution. But to defeat the powerful enemies we face, the working class needs to win every possible ally to the socialist cause. Only by isolating our enemies to the maximum and winning over all those who are exploited and oppressed can capitalism be overthrown.
The united front for socialist revolution will include all class strata and groups who are oppressed by capital as well as the working class - the lower and some of the middle strata of the petty bourgeoisie, oppressed minorities, women, young workers and students.
Because capitalism in Aotearoa is based on settler colonisation, the struggle for socialism will not be a simple conflict between the working class and the capitalists, but will be fundamentally integrated with the Maori struggle for national self-determination. The alliance between the working class and Maori nation is necessary to bring down monopoly capitalism in Aotearoa. The solidity of this alliance will influence the entire development of the united front against monopoly capitalism.
The solidity of this basic alliance hinges on forging unity among nationalities and between men and women within the working class and building unity between the workers movement and the Maori nationalist movement.
The working class is composed of different nationalities; predominantly Pakeha, Maori, Pacific Islander and Asian, and is divided between men and women. Their common identity is that they are all exploited by the capitalist class. But the working class has been divided as women and minority nationality workers have been forced into the worst jobs and working conditions. Pakeha and male workers have higher incomes, better conditions and are more likely to find jobs. English is the official language and European male culture predominates, while the language and culture of national minorities is degraded. To build unity among the working class genuine support for the self determination of national minorities and women must be built.
Not only must unity be built within the working class, but unity must be built between the working class movement and the Maori nationalist movement. Settler colonisation has created a deep desire for Maori for genuine equality and liberty. This national-democratic movement is a powerful revolutionary force and, ultimately, can succeed only with the overthrow of capitalism. This struggle against a common enemy forms the basis for the alliance between the working class and Maori.
To forge the strategic alliance, communists strive to win workers to oppose all forms of racism and sexism, including upholding and fighting for the just demands of the oppressed for self determination. Only in this way will the oppressed see that communists and Pakeha and male workers have no unity with the white and male capitalist class.
Revolutionary Pakeha and male workers have the responsibility of opposing racism and sexism among workers and winning Support for the oppressed. Revolutionaries among oppressed workers have the tasks of uniting and leading the movements of their people and opposing narrow interests.
While the basic alliance is fundamental to the success of the revolutionary united front, organising amongst the basic forces must be combined with work among other classes and strata. Students, predominantly from the petty bourgeoisie, play an important part in democratic, anti-imperialist and revolutionary movements. Intellectuals and professionals are influential, even in small numbers.
Considerable attention must also be given to supporting the much more advanced national liberation movements in the third world. The success of these movements weakens imperialism and intensifies the difficulties for the capitalist class at home.
Excerpt from 'Towards A Socialist Peoples Republic of Aotearoa', Programme of the Communist Party of Aotearoa (NZ)