Report on Marxism 2008 Educational Weekend

– Workers Party(NZ) reporters

Seventy-three people attended the Marxism 2008 conference in Grey Lynn, Auckland over Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Guest speakers and members of the Workers Party (NZ) – which organised the conference – came together to deliver presentations on a range of important issues and to generate discussions and ideas.

The political depth of the educational weekend was strong and presentations were well-received. Internationalist presentations and discussions were held at the beginning of the weekend and this helped give context for the weekend.

Babu Maharjan, a Nepali living in New Zealand, presented a brief history of the people’s war in Nepal that has led to expulsion of the monarchy and overwhelming success for the revolutionary party in the first fully-democratic election in that country, in which it gained a majority.

This was followed by debate about the nature of the economy in the new period in Nepal.

Dennis Maga spoke about the militant trade union movement in the Philippines as well as the more general balance of power between progressive and reactionary forces.

Next, Mike Treen, national director of Unite Union, spoke about the Cuban revolution and the internationalist nature of the Cuban government. He gave focus to the military support it has provided to assist the spread of international revolution.

John Minto of Global Peace and Justice Auckland then gave his view of events in South Africa after the end of apartheid. He emphasised that the removal of racist laws has not stopped the growth of inequality and poverty. He pointed to the fundamental need to struggle on integrated terms – with class being primary in the struggle.

Anthony Main, who attended the conference on behalf of Socialist Party Australia, spoke to the problems of the workers movement after the election of the federal Labour government. Anthony identified some negative changes on the left and in the street, with people putting forward the position that Kevin Rudd (the new Prime Minister) should be given a chance. Anthony spoke about the Labour
government’s position on the Iraq war, aboriginal rights, and industrial legislation, and described the large gap between the government’s liberal propaganda and its capitalist actions.

WP(NZ) member, John Moore and Tigi Ness – who was heavily involved in the Polynesian Panther Party – held a presentation, formatted as a discussion, that explored the particulars of the oppression of Pacific Island people in New Zealand and the forms of resistance used by the panther movement. The history and tactics discussed in this session were particularly fascinating for younger people.

Matt McCarten of Unite Union and Don Franks of WP(NZ) made
presentations on how to fight redundancies. Matt argued that a structural approach was needed. He gave real examples of ways in which an internationalist approach to organising can undermine the employers’ offensive on jobs.

Workers Charter volunteer Brain van Dam and WP (NZ) member Tim Bowron engaged in an open debate on the fight for open borders, with Tim arguing in favour of open borders. Other WP(NZ) activists made presentations on topics such as France 1968, What is socialism?, Dialectics of nature vs nurture, revolutionary positions on capitalist elections, New Zealand’s role in Afghanistan, sex and socialism, the role of a revolutionary paper, and the ongoing need
to build a revolutionary working class party.

A social event was held which included drinking, dancing, and debating.

After the conclusion of the public part of the conference, WP(NZ) held elections to national positions and voted on slogans to be put forward in the 2008 national general elections.

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