imagesby Don Franks

A popular bumper sticker argues, “If you skip voting it’s not rebellion – it’s surrender”.

I don’t think it’s either of those things.

This election I won’t be voting, because, after considering all the options, none of them do it for me.

Although this time round I did consider the possibility of voting for the lesser evil.

That would have meant voting for the National Party. As a tired older worker with many hours toilet cleaning behind me I was very pleased to pass go at 65 and get my pension.

Labour vows to raise the pension age, which will hurt low-paid manual workers and Maori.

National has pledged not to raise the pension age. Sure, political promises mean little, but John Key has staked his reputation on this one, saying he would resign if he broke his word.  So, I was tempted to vote National on this issue of great importance to me.

I won’t though.

Parties of privilege

National is a party of privilege who openly hold the working class in contempt.

In my experience, the Labour Party also hold the working class in contempt.

Over many years I’ve been on Read the rest of this entry »

khalidaj-300x187Comrade Khalida Jarrar, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said on July 20 that any Palestinian leadership must be committed to the option of resistance, the people and their right to defend themselves.

In comments to Palestine Today, Jarrar denounced the statements of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas regarding the aggression on the Gaza Strip, saying that “The leadership today appears to exist in a different reality from the situation of the Palestinian people in the streets.” She demanded a full and immediate end to security coordination with the enemy, saying that these security commitments by the Palestinian Authority keep the Palestinian people at the mercy of the occupation.

She also demanded Read the rest of this entry »

Tucker time at Jerusalem, James K. Baxter on right

Tucker time at Jerusalem, James K. Baxter on right; photo from teara site

by Don Franks

James Baxter’s 1970s Jerusalem commune on the Whanganui river was a singular rural crash pad.

A place where all the social rules I’d previously known and thought to be set in concrete were either bent, bypassed or broken.

You could lie around all day and still get to line up for whatever passed for a feed at night. You could – within limits – exercise the option of ‘first up best dressed’. If you lit a cigarette it was expected that you’d pass it round the company so everyone could have a drag off it.

Once in a while one or two commune members would go to town, do a week’s work and bring basic groceries home for everyone else. Or we’d do small cash jobs for one of the locals. Not the basis for a lasting economic system but fun for a while.

Mostly we spent a lot of time just sitting round enjoying the beautiful bushy valley.

One day I was doing that after cutting up some willow for firewood and I thought for the first time: hey, everything’s Read the rest of this entry »

The following article is from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, here.

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The Zionist enemy carried out a horrific massacre today against the civilians of Shuja’iya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, targeting homes with mortars, tanks, missiles and aircraft, killing dozens of martyrs and wounding hundreds, where many remain under the rubble of their destroyed homes amid a barrage of shells and rockets.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine pledged that the blood of the martyrs of the Shuja’iya massacre, of the war crimes and genocide committed by land, air and sea in every inch of Gaza against civilians in their homes, children, women, and the elderly, will not be wasted, and that the enemy will never be able to break the will and steadfastness of our people and their valiant resistance which will fight and resist this cowardly and criminal enemy until the last breath.

The Front noted that the Zionist criminal occupation has brought Read the rest of this entry »

The following article is reprinted from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine site, here.

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Comrade Khaled Barakat said in an interview with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine media department that “the horrific massacre in Shuja’iya neighborhood in Gaza only proves the brutal, racist, colonialist nature of the occupier that Palestinians are fighting against. The massacre today is one in a long line of ongoing and continuing massacres aiming at the expulsion of Palestinians from our land for over 66 years. The occupation state is based on the massacres and expulsion of Palestinians from their land. It is an illegitimate, racist, settler colonial entity and this shines through in its massacres in Gaza.”

“The massacre also indicates the failure of the aggression and the cowardice of the Israeli Occupation Forces,” Barakat said. “Killing children and bombing civilians is not military heroism. This massacre, conducted with U.S.-made and funded weapons before the eyes of the world, with the silence and complicity of imperial powers and Arab regimes, is another proof that the occupation forces have failed in the battlefield and in their attempt to force a surrender upon the resistance.”

“The war criminals in Tel Aviv wanted to prove to their racist society that they are ‘making progress’ and the way to do that is by shelling a historic neighbourhood in Gaza, Shujai’yya, crowded with civilians, full of people, displacing over 85,000 people, bombing and shelling children and families with tanks and warplanes, because Read the rest of this entry »

by Michael Roberts

I made a presentation to the Marxism Festival 2014 over the weekend before last (http://marxismfestival.org.uk/). The presentation was called The nature of the current Long Depression. There were three things that I wanted to argue in that presentation.

First, I argued that Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall was the underlying cause of the cycle of recurrent crises (booms and slumps) in modern economies, including the Great Recession. Suffice it to say that mainstream economics has no convincing explanation of recurrent crises. As Nobel economics prize winner Eugene Fama put it: “We don’t know what causes recessions. I’m not a macroeconomist so I don’t feel bad about that. We’ve never known. Debates go on to this day about what caused the Great Depression. Economics is not very good at explaining swings in economic activity….If I could have predicted the crisis, I would have. I don’t see it. I’d love to know more what causes business cycles.”

Now Thomas Piketty, author of the best-selling economics book of the 21st century, called Capital in the 21st century (see my posts, http://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/a-world-rate-of-profit-revisited-with-maito-and-piketty/) has been quick to dismiss Marx’s law as plain wrong in fact. As Piketty puts it in his book, with the same title as Marx’s 19th century version: “the rate of return on capital is a central concept in many economic theories. In particular, Marxist analysis emphasises the falling rate of profit – a historical prediction that has turned out to be quite wrong”.

Well, in my presentation, I show the work of Esteban Maito (Maito, Esteban – The historical transience of capital. The downward tren in the rate of profit since XIX century) on what has happened to the rate of profit in an amalgam of 14 countries since Marx developed his law of profitability in the mid-19th century, arguing that it was the most important law of all political economy. Here is Read the rest of this entry »

by Yassamine Mather

Negev Nuclear Research Center

On July 13 the Persian-speaking spokesperson of the US State Department was asked by the BBC if, in the absence of any progress in negotiations between the P5+1 powers and Iran before July 20, there would be an extension to the deadline for the final phase of nuclear discussions. His reply was clear: John Kerry is in Vienna to resolve the differences and we want to sign the final deal. So don’t let’s talk of extensions. Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, was in Vienna for those talks in an attempt to resolve what William Hague has called “a huge gap” – in particular between Iran’s demand for a future nuclear enrichment programme in spite of the west’s strong opposition.

By July 15, after three meetings with Iranian officials, Kerry seemed positive, although both he and Zarif were already hinting at an extension of the July 20 deadline. Further concessions by Iran are likely to include a possible delay of three to seven years in pursuing aspects of the country’s nuclear programme. Irrespective of the final outcome, it is clear that Iran is under considerable pressure to sign the final agreement. A return to sanctions worse than in the 2010-13 period is unthinkable. However, the Iranian negotiating team is aware that the “full support” of supreme leader Ali Khamenei will only last as long as Negev Nuclear Research Centerthey can come up with a face-saving compromise.

In theory the general outlines of the proposed final deal between the P5+1 and Iran is very clear: western powers will recognise Iran’s rights to have a nuclear industry, as long as the country accepts inspections and verification of all its nuclear facilities. On the face of it, both sides agree with this proposal and, given the current US predicament over Iraq (not to mention Syria and Afghanistan), one might have thought there would be fresh momentum to resolve things. However, US-Iranian relations are not that simple and the west’s insistence on restrictions on nuclear enrichment, the closure of the Arak heavy water plant and an end to plutonium production go far beyond nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conditions (they are, according to the Iranian team, “NPT-plus”).

Iranian president Hassan Rowhani sent his brother to Vienna, apparently as an advisor to the foreign secretary, but sections of the Iranian press claim he came with new proposals that should narrow the gap between the two sides – better monitoring facilities, and a delay in pursuing certain aspects of the nuclear programme in return for Iran’s right to enrich uranium.

However, none of this is sufficient for the US. The reality is, the US wants to punish Iran and make sure it cannot benefit from the political vacuum in the region. It wants to ensure that its own interpretation of the NPT becomes the norm, as far as the developing world is concerned. On this Khamenei is probably right when he says US concerns have little to do with nuclear proliferation.

Stages

Two interpretations of the NPT have dominated the various stages of the talks. On the one hand, there is the non-aligned countries’ literal Read the rest of this entry »