In the aftermath of the election debacle, the Right and Left in NZ are preoccupied with partisan debates about Conservatives vs Liberals. This is boringly parochial when more-market and more-state discourse creates a lot of noise drowning out any opening up of our horizons beyond national borders to envision a future for working class solidarity in building a socialist Federation of Australasia and the South Pacific republics.
NZ, Australia, and the other South Pacific countries have all been colonised by the British empire as part of the universal white settler frontier on all the continents. That makes us part of the Wild South compared with the Wild West, the Wild East and the Wild Tropics of the Global South.
While the Wild West has given way to US global hegemony, the Wild South of colonial conquest still defines our neo-colonial character. We share the common characteristics of settler colonies in the South Pacific and Australasia – self-rule without economic independence. Our economies have all been locked up by imperialism as primary producers of food, textiles, fuel and minerals.
Which means we are still under the yoke of a racist neo-colonial culture of white dominance packaged as national pride that miraculously ‘unites’ us all. But there is nothing progressive about being trapped behind national borders. National chauvinism of the Right or Left is still chauvinism.
The right is hyper nationalist in its identity politics to make us clean green kiwis proud of being suckered into producing and exporting super profits for the Australian banks, US pension funds and Chinese supply chains, while tolerating thousands of cheap labour migrants and middle class tourists.
The Left is also hyper nationalist for more state intervention in a country largely owned and occupied by foreign capital. It is blind to the contradiction. How does bringing back Muldoon’s state interventionist economic nationalism work when Māori, Pasifika, Pakeha and Asian workers are forced by economic hardship to chase their back wages confiscated by the Aussie banks to look for jobs as second class citizens in Australia?
The right needs nationalism to keep workers passive-aggressive. That is, docile at ‘home’, but ready to go to war against Chinese workers for our US led security partners. So the Left should fight for workers to be liberated from national chauvinism to redirect their aggression against other workers onto their class oppressors across borders and create a new society capable of restoring society as part of nature. No war but class war!
So let’s dump the death trap of chauvinism of all kinds, national, gender and race, and unite with our brothers and sisters of the Wild South to break out into class struggle. We have a long history of the suppression of such struggles over two centuries.
Instead of the settler parochialism of standing upright in NZ, let’s face the fact that we never fought to win our independence. Māori fought for their independence but were defeated by imperial and colonial troops in the wars for land.
That is why non-Māori must recognise that NZ will never be independent until Māori are independent. That is also true of Australia and the South Pacific. The struggles of the indigenous people, particularly women, will lead the way to unite us across borders, just as they did before borders were invented.
Sovereignty will mean something only when we reject bourgeois sovereignty of capitalist nation states and replace them with the collective sovereignty of socialist republics of the South Pacific and Australasia.
But that cannot happen while we all remain neo-colonies of the US and China. Workers need to join forces with all workers in our Australasian and South Pacific homelands to form a common front against our imperialist masters.
The first step is to act in class solidarity across borders for citizenship rights breaking down reactionary parochial national identities. That will begin the process of building collective class power constitutive of a new society emerging out of the wreckage of the old.
We must learn to stand upright in the Wild South!
Dave Brownz is TDBs guest Marxist because every Left wing blog requires a guest Marxist.