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Daily blog urges investigation into New Zealand Trotskyist ‘betrayal’

By Tom Peters, Socialist Equality Group
April 29, 2022
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On April 16, Martyn Bradbury, editor of New Zealand’s Daily Blog, published an extraordinary attack on the Socialist Equality Group (SEG), the New Zealand supporters of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

Bradbury is calling on the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), the state’s national spy agency, to “openly investigate Socialist Equality Group as Chinese enablers and for possible treason.” SIS has a long and well-known history of spying on left-wing and anti-war organizations and activists, including during the Vietnam War movement and anti-nuclear weapons protests.

In crude McCarthyist language, indistinguishable from that of the far right, Bradbury writes: [sic] any criticism of the most abusive human rights regime on the face of the planet, China, by attacking anyone who challenges their authoritarian abuses.

It is necessary to call it for what it is. Bradbury became an accomplice of the security agencies and pointed the finger at the Trotskyist movement for state repression. His hysterical outburst, under the headline “The Chinese Lab Leak Theory Refuses to Die”, is further confirmation that there is nothing leftist or progressive in the Daily Blog, a middle-class nationalist publication that supports the Labour-Green government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The attack on the SEG, which was reposted on April 27 with an extended denunciation from China, has the character of a preemptive strike. It aims to intimidate anyone who opposes the pro-war hysteria stoked by Washington and its allies, including New Zealand’s political establishment and media. The Daily Blog post no doubt reflects ongoing discussions within the political establishment about how to stop the development of a genuine internationalist revolutionary leadership in the working class to oppose the push for war and to the capitalist system which is its source.

Bradbury’s reference to human rights abuses in China echoes the cynical propaganda of US media and intelligence agencies, which have accused China, without any evidence, of carrying out “genocide” against the Uyghur population. The American ruling class has no concern for the working class in China, including the Uyghurs, who certainly suffer from repression and exploitation at the hands of the capitalist state.

The political opposition of the Trotskyist movement to the regime of the Chinese Communist Party (Maoist) in Beijing and its oppressive methods from the point of view of the international working class is long-standing and well-documented. However, the United States is actively preparing for war with China and deliberately escalating tensions with Beijing.

Over the past three decades, it is US imperialism and its allies, not China, that are responsible for the criminal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya – to name but a few of the most recent events – which have killed millions of people and destroyed entire societies. The invocation of “human rights” has been used to justify every war against America’s enemies, including the current US-NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.

Bradbury’s attack on the SEG comes as the war in Ukraine escalates and there are growing threats against China, which US imperialism sees as the main obstacle to its dominance over the Eurasian landmass. The Ardern government has sent dozens of troops to Europe to help with the war effort and faces a growing crisis in New Zealand. As elsewhere in the world, historic class struggles are on the agenda, fueled by the soaring cost of living and the disastrous spread of COVID-19.

There are precedents for the kind of state repression the Daily Blog calls for. During World Wars I and II, the New Zealand state imprisoned hundreds of anti-war and left-wing activists for “sedition”; leftist and socialist publications are banned. In the United States, 18 members of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers’ Party were tried and sentenced to prison terms during World War II for opposing the war.

Bradbury’s comparison of the SEG to Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian leader of the Nazi collaboration during World War II, is not accidental: during World War II, Trotskyists were branded as fascist collaborators, by Stalinists and d others, because of their principled opposition to the war. By absurdly portraying China as the modern equivalent of Nazi Germany, the Daily Blog presents any opposition to the US-led war campaign as criminal.

Bradbury clarifies that what he sees as ‘treason’ is the SEG’s denunciation of the anti-China propaganda it has been publishing for years to justify New Zealand’s inclusion in the US military buildup in the region. indo-pacific. The blog post took particular exception to a World Socialist Web Site post by SEG member John Braddock, which described the Daily Blog’s role in promoting the right-wing conspiracy theory that COVID-19 originated in a lab in Wuhan.

The theory, which has been thoroughly debunked by scientists, was concocted by Trump’s fascist ally Steve Bannon and his associates. The lab leak lie serves specific political purposes: to deflect blame for the disastrous US response to the pandemic, which has claimed more than a million lives; and to demonize China for war. The Daily Blog editor unabashedly aligns himself behind Trump, saying he “may have been right all along” and that “a deep distrust of China is justified.”

The Daily Blog portrays China as a threat to New Zealand and calls for making it a “fortress”, with military spending increased from 1.5% to 5% of GDP. Bradbury has joined the latest media furore over China’s security deal with the Solomon Islands. On March 26, he said, “China is entering our sphere of influence through insidious means disguised as security. He called on New Zealand “to decouple its economy from China”, describing it as a “national security issue”.

Since 2017, the Daily Blog has promoted pro-American academic Anne-Marie Brady, a key player in New Zealand and Australia’s anti-China campaign. She accused ethnic Chinese lawmakers of being spies and demanded state surveillance of Chinese student organizations, cultural groups, media, academics and companies with ties to China.

Now Bradbury wants this witch hunt extended to target the Trotskyist movement, the only political tendency fighting to build a global working class movement against war, based on socialist and internationalist principles.

Internationally, as the danger of a Third World War increases, the ICFI faces growing censorship and threats of state surveillance. In Germany, the Socialist Equality Party has been labeled a “left-wing extremist” by the state security agency, due to its opposition to capitalism and the revival of militarism. In Australia, where the Morrison government and Labor pledge billions of dollars to the military to prepare for war with China, election laws have been changed to prevent the SEP and other smaller parties from participating in ongoing elections under their party name.

Internationally, the war plans led by the United States are supported by various pseudo-left groups, close to the union bureaucracy and representing sections of the upper middle class. These include the Democratic Socialists of America, the Socialist Alliance in Australia and the Left Party in Germany, among others.

In New Zealand, the Daily Blog speaks for a similar middle layer, close to the Labor Party and its allies, including the unions, who fear any labor movement developing against the militarist policies of the Ardern government, as well as its attacks on life standards and the criminal decision to end New Zealand’s COVID-19 elimination strategy.

In the final analysis, the privileges of the upper middle classes depend on the suppression of the class struggle in the country and on New Zealand’s alliance with the United States and Australia, which safeguards the “sphere of influence New Zealand’s neocolonialism in the Pacific and its commercial interests around the world.

Blog contributors include former Unite labor leader Mike Treen, liberal commentator Chris Trotter, former Alliance Party member Liz Gordon, former Mana Party member John Minto and others from the liberal pseudo-left milieu . None of them objected to Bradbury’s joining the SIS and his denunciation of socialists as traitors; it is because they agree with him.

We call on workers to reject the nationalist and militarist propaganda carried by the Daily Blog, and to defend the SEG and the WSWS against Bradbury’s provocative call for state repression.

Workers and young people who seek to oppose the war can only do so by turning to the socialist and internationalist program championed by the SEG, which aims to unite workers around the world against the capitalist system. In New Zealand, this requires a political break with the Labor Party and its supporters, including the Daily Blog.

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