Asset sales – an anarchist position

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Joined: 24-04-13
Apr 26 2013 10:08
Asset sales – an anarchist position

Here is a leaflet we (Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement) wrote for the asset sales protest on 27th April 2013. You can download a PDF here.

Angry? You bet! We are marching side-by-side with others who are sick and tired of greed. We reject privatisation – the transfer of functions and industry to the private sector – as it only leads to higher prices, less and worse jobs, and worse services. Given this, some view nationalisation – the transfer of economic resources (e.g. mines, banks, and factories) to state ownership and control – as a rallying cry for a socialist alternative.

However, nationalisation has never removed capitalism, nor led to socialism, and it certainly does not have a record of improving wages, jobs, rights and safety. Nationalisation, rather than promote "workers’ control" or companies’ accountability to the public, has routinely meant top-down management, union-bashing, bad services and bad conditions.

We see another way forward: collectivisation from below! We can place industry under direct workers’ self-management, subject to worker-community participatory democratic control to meet human needs and end oppression and environmental destruction. Strikes and occupations can be our collective tools for liberation.

As anarchists, we cannot reconcile ourselves to any government. The Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement is an organisation working towards a classless, stateless society: anarchist communism. That society would be run by a federation of workplace and community councils, with everyone having a say in decisions that affect them.

Joined: 6-01-07
Apr 26 2013 13:55

Probably OK as a starter to discussion but ...Doesn't really explain the function of state ownership or control of resources in capitalism or the impetus for it's dismantelling accross the world in recent times even before the onset of the current economic crisis and relies heavily on explanations of alternatives in largely formal organisational terms.

Can you give some background information on this 'Asset sales protest' and the approach of others involved with it for those of us in the UK?

Joined: 30-11-04
Apr 26 2013 20:19

yeah, it's a pretty brief text that had to fit on an A5 leaflet - so A LOT of context and further arguments is missing.

The NZ government - a coalition of the National Party and some minor parties - is selling 49% of several state owned enterprises (SOE). It's important to note that the Labour Party privatised vast amounts of the state in the 1980s when the Labour Party adopted neo-liberalism under its then Minister of Finance Roger Douglas.

These SOEs are basically run just like any other capitalist business. The current government was upfront before the last election that they would go ahead with selling 49% of the shares of several power companies (and retain 51%). The process for buying shares for the first SOE to be sold - Mighty River Power - has now started.

This has sparked quite a lot of opposition across the country:
- a (largely unsuccessful) legal challenge from Maori in relation to the crown's obligations under the Treaty of Waitingi
- a citizens initianted referendum (which requires 300,000 signatures, almost 10% of eligible voters) which has yet to come to a vote (an whether it will be a binding referendum is another question)
- a protest movement that has organised marches in various cities, with up to 8,000 people on the street against the asset sales

More protest marches are planned for today (27 April). While the marches are supported by the Labour and Green Parties and some of the Trade Unions, they are mainly organised by activists from groups like the Mana Party (a left-wing Maori party) or Socialist Aotearoa (a marxist outfit). Some of these groups are pushing for renationalisation: "But we believe that a future Labour /Green government should go further and renationalise any power companies sold off."

So I suppose by handing out a leaflet, AWSM is trying to carry a different perspective into the protest movement.

Rats's picture
Joined: 9-05-08
Apr 29 2013 02:03

Can AWSM get speakers at rallies? Or are you factionally blocked?

Mark E
Joined: 12-03-13
Apr 29 2013 06:51

our problem is not so much that we are 'factionally blocked', more its that we are slightly fucken useless! AWSM is pretty small and spread very thinly (usually only one member in each town or city!). I don't think we would have any problem getting to speak at a rally if we tried. our main problem is we are so tiny and (lately) inactive.

also for train spotters, Socialist Aotearoa are part of the ISO/SWP/tony cliff tendency/thing. there are two groups like this in NZ and both them and the other major leninist group (fightback) are involved with the Mana party. Neither Labour or the Grern party put any effort into the protests in the weekend and have been criticized by most of the far left groups for this. The anti asset sales issue has sparked a lot of interest but (in my opinion) most of this is coming from the remnants of the social democrat left. Labour and the greens are trying to get some of that support and the leninist left in NZ like to tag along. I am not excited about fighting for a electricity companies to be kept in the hands of the govt rather than a private owner, As Smush says they are already run for profit. I was initially hoping that the anti asset sales movement would turn into something broader and maybe more radical but the bits of it that I have seen haven't really gone beyond social democratic arguments. But maybe I am a cynical depressed old man . .