Although the Alliance for Workers Liberty has no co-group in New Zealand and is a minor player on the British far-left, we’re running the article below because the AWL ideas being critiqued in it are certainly relevant here (and probably in the rest of the imperialist world).  These ideas are, indeed, widespread among the liberal left in this country.

Sean Matgamna; founder of the tendency and self-proclaimed Zionist

by Patrick Smith

In 2013 I resigned from the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty following the publication of Sean Matgamna’s ‘Marxism and religion’ article and subsequently became a member of the CPGB. Since then I have spent some time reflecting on my experience and clarifying my ideas.In particular I have been considering social-imperialism: what it is and how it has changed over time. In that light I would like to discuss the AWL’s positions on various conflicts, its heterodox theory of imperialism and capitalist development, and why it is wrong.


Throughout history, the systematic violence and coercion that maintains the current imperialist world order has been justified by various ideas. Prior to World War I the big idea was that the imperialist nations were bringing civilisation to the uncivilised. In the late 20th century it was bringing democracy to totalitarian states. More recently it has been about preventing genocide or mass murder.

The ideas that justify imperialism are always noble. Who but an uncaring intransigent could oppose spreading civilisation and all that it brings to those unfortunate enough not to have developed it themselves? Who could oppose bringing democracy to those trampled under the heel of authoritarianism? Who could oppose the only thing capable of preventing a genocide?

It is within this context that social-imperialism occurs. These questions tend to dominate the arguments put forward by the AWL, for example – US imperialism is seen as preventing massacres or bringing stability. The AWL has developed its own theory, of course, to justify its positions, but in its day-to-day literature and slogans it is the ‘common sense’ bourgeois ideas that lurk beneath the surface.

This is not unique to the AWL. Both Ernest Belfort Bax and Eduard Bernstein accepted the thinking of the day that imperialism drew “barbarian” or “savage” peoples towards civilisation. But they differed over whether this was historically progressive and chose a side accordingly.

Bernstein thought that capitalist social relations had to be spread across the world as a precondition for socialism. He therefore did not oppose colonial conquest in circumstances where he thought the people being colonised were Read the rest of this entry »

Redline’s readership has, since we began, grown consistently and substantially. At the same time, it can be quite daunting going to a website for the first time and reading a few things on the home-page and then wondering what to look at next and where to go to find it.  So, over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sticking up some lists of important articles in a range of categories.

We’re starting with some important pieces on the state of the working class in New Zealand.  In a couple of days time we’ll list some key articles on the subject of Whatever happened to workers’ resistance?  After that, we’ll list some material on the alternatives to accepting this shite, how workers can fight back, with some inspiring contemporary and historical examples.  The following list will be of key pieces on the current government’s economic and social policies.

Anyway, here’s our first list – remember this is only partial, but each article will also provide some links to related articles.

Coming apart down under: the decay of New Zealand capitalist society from the 1970s to 1993
The state of the working class in New Zealand, 1997
A united front against low-paid workers
A strange paradox: can New Zealand workers really be happy with this crap?
Information Technology and the rise of New Zealand’s modern servant class
Bending over backwards: New Zealand’s temp economy and capital’s growing need for ‘flexible’ labour
The real working life of a chef: a view from the inside
Low horizons and the legacy of defeats
Last machinist at Achilles Industries
Pike River: ‘cashflow’ versus workers’ safety

And most recently: ANZ bank workers take action and Ructions at Lyttelton Port

You will also find lots of reports and other stories about specific workers’ struggles of recent years in the Unions – New Zealand category, here:; among these is the substantial coverage we gave to the Ports of Auckland dispute in 2012 and the firefighters’ struggle of the same year.

Is the world really de-industrialising?

Is the world really de-industrialising?

by Michael Roberts

Last week I spoke on a panel that debated De-industrialisation and socialism.  The panel was organised by Spring, a Manchester-based group in England that has become a forum for the discussion of developments in capitalism and their implications for the prospects for socialism (

The main theme for this panel discussion was the evident fact that the industrial sector (manufacturing, mining, energy etc) has declined sharply as share of the output and employment in the mature capitalist economies during the 20th century.  The question for debate  was: does this mean that the working class has also declined and is no longer the main force of change in capitalism; and also that a socialist or post-capitalist society will be a world without industry or employment of industrial workers?

World not de-industrialising

The first point I made in the discussion was that the world is not de-industrialising.  Globally, there were 2.2bn people at work and producing value back in 1991.  Now there are 3.2bn.  The global workforce has risen by 1bn in the last 20 years.  But there has been no de-industrialisation globally.  De-industrialisation is a phenomenon of the Read the rest of this entry »

by Andy Warren

In a word – dying.  But not from Ebola.

According to WHO data it looks like this:1501834_950246134996398_1142675260604489720_n

However, fear and anxiety are the sexiest ingredients of any story today – rather than boring facts. Ebola fits perfectly the Hollywood template of fast-moving disaster met by flimsy human desperation – Humanity’s timid, hopeless David versus Mother Nature’s angry Goliath – and the slingshot is invariably “hope” or some nauseating version of “pulling together”.

America is now – world media would have you believe – under siege by Read the rest of this entry »

One of Ireland’s many ‘ghost estates’, built during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ fake-boom; these buildings are a haunting symbol of early 21st century Ireland

Saturday 1 November, 1 – 4.30 pm

The twenty-first century began in Ireland with, officially at least, a great deal of promise. Thirty years of armed conflict in the north came to an apparent end and the south of Ireland appeared to be entering a period of dynamic economic growth. By the end of the first decade of the century, however, things were less bright. The Celtic Tiger economy, in reality more a big bubble economy, burst and dissatisfaction with the new political dispensation in the north broke through the surface. This one-afternoon course critically examines the northern ‘settlement’, the southern economy and likely outcomes over the next decade.

Course presenter: Philip Ferguson

You can enrol on-line at:

Or else contact the WEA by phone – (03) 3660285 – or by email –

One of our links is to the excellent Le Mur des Oreilles site, which contains interviews with Palestinian figures, Israeli anti-Zionists and a range of cultural and political figures talking about the Palestinian cause and the importance of actions such as the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign.  Below is an interview with prominent Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, conducted last year by the site.


Ilan Pappé

LMaDO: Ilan, you are an historian, you’ve published numerous books, amongst them the famous and controversial for some people “Ethnic cleansing of Palestine” in 2006. In 2007 you moved to England where you are currently teaching history at the Exeter University. You are part of what is called by some people “the new historians” who gives a new analysis and narrative of the history of Zionism and the history of the creation of Israel. You’ve taken some radical positions against the state of Israel. Why and when did you decide to stand on the Palestinians’ side? And what were the consequences for you being Israeli?

Ilan Pappe: Changing point of view on such a crucial issue is a long journey, it doesn’t happen in one day and it doesn’t happen because of one event. I’ve tried in one of my books called “Out of the Frame” to describe this journey out of Zionism to a critical position against Zionism. If I had to choose a formative event that really changed my point of view in dramatic way, it would be the attack of the Israelis on Lebanon in 1982. For us who grew up in Israel, it was the first non-consensus war, the first war that obviously was a war of choice: Israel was not attacked, Israel attacked. Then the first Intifada happened. These events were eye-openers in many ways for people like myself who already had some doubts about Zionism, about the historical version we learned at school.

It is a long journey and once you take it, you are facing your own society, you are even facing your own family and it is not a nice position to be in. People who know Israel know that it is an intimate and vibrant society so if you are against it, you feel it in every aspect of your life. I think this is one of the reasons why it takes a bit longer for the people like me to come to the point where you say there is no Read the rest of this entry »


Protest at Paremoremo in 2012 over what lawyer Peter Williams described as ‘inhumane’ conditions

by Val Morse

I want to acknowledge all the people who have done time inside, been arrested or assaulted by the police, whether here or elsewhere.

I want also to acknowledge all of the victims of crimes who have suffered at the hands of another person or institution.

Today we are here to talk about police brutality and the prison industrial complex.  We know that police and prisons are a tool of the elite in society to control those with less power and fewer resources – from the checkpoints in Palestine, to the private prisons of Pittsburgh, to the maximum security of Paremoremo, the story is much the same.

Private property

We have heard how the police are deployed to protect private property – the fundamental underlying principle of our modern capitalist state.  We have a system where a very few can have hundreds of thousands of acres of land and billions of dollars, while millions go landless and hungry, quickly being submerged under the rising tides of catastrophic climate change or murdered by a drone missile.

We have millions of refugees Read the rest of this entry »