Archive for the ‘At the coalface’ Category

tiredby Don Franks

One more day of shiny-faced candidate posters. After weeks of campaigning, the forced grins on election posters all start looking the same.

Excepting one, the poster headed: “The most powerful person in New Zealand”.

Images in this poster series include a young guy in a hoodie, a weary-looking butcher, an anxious-looking young mother and child, several tattooed people.

None of them smiling. If you had to guess their situation you’d say hard working folks, probably not so well paid.

The slogan below each face reads “your vote is worth as much as anyone in the country – get out there and use it”.

Each morning as I’ve jogged round the streets the posters have irritated me. A working life among tired-looking low-paid employees has taught me (more…)

Mass public meeting, Auckland Town Hall last night featuring Glen Greenwald, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Photo: Radio NZ/Kim Baker Wilson

The mass public meeting at the Auckland Town Hall last night featured Glen Greenwald, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, along with Laila Harre and Kim Dotcom. Photo: Radio NZ/Kim Baker Wilson

by Andy Warren

Apart from the dronings of Harre and DotCom, the speakers were engaging, knowledgeable and entertaining – Assange less so; he’s apparently unwell and the UK government are engaged in covert efforts to drive him mad in any way possible, including, it seems, blocking the Ecuadorean embassy’s attempt to buy the flat downstairs and possibly firing up jackhammers during his video conference.

There were no surprising revelations. And nothing I feel which guarantees any sort of political upheaval or sense of victory or triumph for left politics.

On a technical level, New Zealand’s population is the size of any number of small cities worldwide, albeit spread over an area the size of the UK. Our access to international communications infrastructure – through which we get the bulk of our internet access – is via satellite and terrestrial cables (the southern cross cable was mentioned last night).


In terms of physical interception, a couple of technicians visiting one room in one data centre where the Southern Cross “cable” (actually a bundle of many fibres) enters NZ is all that would be necessary to install a large version of the internet equivalent of a phone tap.

Unlike a phone tap, however, these cables don’t carry only a (more…)


The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Gaza City organized a mass rally and military march with thousands of cadres, members and supporters of the Front and hundreds of fighters with the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades. The event came in celebration of the victory of the Palestinian people in Gaza in the recent aggression, and in commemoration of the 13th anniversary of the assassination of Abu Ali Mustafa, General Secretary of the PFLP, on August 27, 2001, by a US-made missile fired into his Ramallah office by the Zionist airforce .

Marchers carried Palestinian flags, PFLP banners and resistance images from the region and around the world, saluting the Lebanese resistance and Latin American nations and people who stood consistently with Palestine.

Comrade Jamil Mizher, member of the Political Bureau and leader of the PFLP’s branch in Gaza, saluted the masses of the Palestinian people who defined the meaning of resistance and struggle as they (more…)

isis-target-europe-middle-east-conflict-hamas-i-20140824_art_fullby Yassamine Mather

Every day news of new atrocities by the Islamic State is making headlines. From the beheading of young journalists to the mass extermination of religious and national minorities in Iraq and Syria, there seems to be no end to the barbarism and brutality of this latest brand of Islamist jihadism. US air strikes might have slowed down the IS’s military progress – earlier this week the two Shia cities of Amerli and Suleiman Beik were recaptured, the latter with the direct intervention of Iranian Revolutionary Guards. However, it is clear that the IS is far from defeated.

It is ironic to think that only a year ago the debate was about US military intervention on the side of Syrian opposition forces – even then dominated by the very jihadists who later chose the name ‘Daesh’ (in Arabic), or Isis. Today the US is conducting an air war against the group (and the United Kingdom is close to joining in). This air war will no doubt bolster the regime of Bashar Assad. The mass media portray US air raids and drone attacks as yet another humanitarian intervention, downplaying the enormity of the US change in policy over the last 12 months. Has there been regime change in Syria? Has the dictator the imperialists were so keen to ditch relinquished power? Is his government more democratic than a year ago? Of course, the answer to all these questions is ‘no’. Assad has consolidated his power with phoney elections; his army (supported by another ‘rogue state’, Iran) is as repressive as ever before. In short, what has changed is the priorities of the imperialist powers – there is now an urgent need to maintain control over the country they ruined in another ‘humanitarian’ intervention in 2003: Iraq.

So Shia Iran, and therefore its ally, Syria, are no longer the main enemy. On the contrary, (more…)

indexby Philip Ferguson

Don Franks’ critique of Mana’s anti-poverty campaign touched on the contradiction between what seasoned activists in Mana know and what they put forward in practice.  Don noted, “But MANA’s veteran activists understand the basic nature of capitalism. Why do they wilfully misrepresent it?”

This is at the very heart of far-left involvement in Mana/Internet Mana.  Sections of the far left continually make out that radical-reformist politics are better than revolutionary politics most of the time in practice.  So when are revolutionary politics to be argued and fought for, and put before workers?  Apparently, not today.  Maybe tomorrow?  But then tomorrow becomes today, and so, once again, the time is not right for advancing revolutionary politics.

This self-limiting stance taken by the left groups involved in Mana/Internet Mana – although at least ISO is engaged in some reconsidering and useful open debate – means, in effect, that the time is never right for advancing revolutionary politics.

Instead the far left groups, despite the subjective intentions of their more radical members, play the role of gate-keeper, (more…)

IMPby Don Franks

On Tuesday 9 September 2014, Internet Mana launched a Campaign to Eliminate Poverty outlined by Internet MANA at a public meeting in Otara.

The campaign launch noted  that “30,000 New Zealand families are now officially listed as homeless – living in cars, cowsheds, cockroach-infested caravans, and jammed into garages or three or four families per house. Home ownership is now completely out of the reach of these and tens of thousands of other families”

“Unemployment has continued to rise with fewer jobs available now than in 2008, wages have continued to fall to the point wh ere 40% of children who live in poverty have parents in paid work, and three out of four New Zealanders now earn less than the average wage.

“The free market policies introduced by Labour and ramped up by National, have given us nothing more than 30 years of lost assets, high unemployment, falling real wages, and rocketing levels of homelessness.”

The campaign claimed further that: “In fact, never before in the history of this country, has so much poverty been imposed on so many people over such a short time, as under the curre nt National-ACT-United Future-Māori Party government.”

That is just wishful thinking.

Leftist attempts to demonize the present government grow the more shrill as Key’s popularity has risen. The present (more…)

Voting-231x300by Philip Ferguson

Over the past few weeks a position has crystallised at Redline in terms of not voting in the 2014 election and advocating that others make a positive decision not to vote. This position is shared by a layer of comrades in AWSM (Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement) and a layer of independent left and liberal people such as Richard Jackson of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Otago University.

The alternative put forward by the ostensibly far left groups seems to be getting involved in reformist parties, like Mana / InternetMana, although gratifyingly there seems to be a serious debate within one of these three groups, namely the International Socialist Organisation, about the contradiction between espousing class politics and endorsing the Internet/Mana lash-up.

A big problem with far left endorsement of reformist parties is that it virtually always leads to prettifying the politics of such parties as if they are somehow on the same road as us. To give two recent instances. There is an interview with Miriam Pierard in the latest issue of Fightback, which is largely liberal, personalised gush – one Redline contributor described it as being like a “puff piece in an in-flight magazine” – and there is no challenge by the interviewer to the views Ms Pierard puts forward.  For instance, about how supposedly awesome a Labour/Greens/InternetMana government would be or a comment such as “how special New Zealand is and how important it is to take back our proud history of leading the world in progressive change”.

Her blurb on the Internet Party site describes her as a "national treasure" but, before being hired by Kim Dotcom, Laila Harre oversaw hundreds and hundreds of council workers in the greater Auckland area being made redundant

Her blurb on the Internet Party site describes her as a “national treasure” but, before being hired by Kim Dotcom, Laila Harre oversaw hundreds and hundreds of council workers in the greater Auckland area being made redundant

Ms Pierard also talks about how Laila Harre is a particular hero of hers, citing Harre’s role in extending paid parental leave and fighting against NZ military intervention in Afghanistan. But John Key’s government has also extended paid parental leave and Laila, as an Alliance MP, voted for the government motion supporting the invasion of Afghanistan.  It was the revolt by the rank-and-file that forced Alliance MPs to change their minds on that one.

Another article in the same issue refers to “veteran unionist Laila Harre”. But this, too, is at best misleading and at worst a disingenuous (more…)