indexJuly 4, 2014 – Comrade Leila Khaled, member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, saluted the martyred child Mohammed Abu Khdeir, murdered, tortured and burned by Zionist settlers, greeting his mother: “Your son did not burn; he lives in the heart of every Palestinian and every young man who now revolts.”

In an interview with Al-Mayadeen TV, she said that this moment requires immediate action for national unity and the establishment of a new level of struggle to confront occupation and settlements. “Leaders who will not act in this moment must step down,” she said.

She called for an immediate Read the rest of this entry »

6a00d83451d75d69e2019b00aaa23d970c-800wiLabour’s annual snooze-fest took place at the weekend, the usual motley collection of wizened older cynics, opportunist thirty- and forty-somethings and a smattering of naive young people who think they belong to something left-wing.  TV pictures tended to indicate it was a rather small affair.  This dreary bunch of ‘alternative’ managers of the interests of the exploiting class continue to wallow in the polls and party leader Cunliffe especially so.  The ruling class aren’t yet ready to trade management teams, as they were in 1984 and 1999.  Maybe 2017?  Although Labour are long-proven to be no alternative for workers, chunks of the left chatter on about a “Labour-led government”, as if this would be some kind of positive alternative to Key and National.  And parties like Mana are up for doing business.

Below is a selection of material on Redline, dissecting Labour:

Workers, unions and Labour: unraveling the myths: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/workers-unions-and-labour-unravelling-the-myths/

The truth about Labour: a bosses’ party: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/the-truth-about-labour-a-bosses-party/

Shane Jones and the nature of the Labour Party: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/shane-jones-and-the-nature-of-the-labour-party/

Labour gains, workers lose (about Matt McCarten returning to Labour): http://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/labour-gains-workers-lose/

Labour’s GST and conventional weapons: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/labours-gst-and-conventional-weapons/

Union movement gathers for fairness at work, Labour gathers missionaries: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/union-movement-gathers-for-fairness-at-work-labour-gathers-missionaries/

Labour’s leadership contest: illusions and confusions on the left: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/labours-leadership-contest-illusions-and-confusions-on-the-left/

Some further observations on the fourth Labour government: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/more-on-the-fourth-labour-government/

Labour’s legal leg-irons: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/labours-legal-leg-irons/

Wharfies’ fight shows futility of unions giving money to Labour: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/wharfies-fight-shows-futility-of-unions-giving-money-to-labour/

Labour’s introduction of peacetime conscription and the fight against it: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/labours-introduction-of-peacetime-conscription-and-the-fight-against-it/

 

CSF003Below we are reprinting material that first appeared in issue 57 of Aspects of India’s Economy, publication of the Research Unit on Political Economy.  We would strongly recommend RUPE’s work to anyone who wants to understand what is going on in the economy and politics of India.  

by Jacob Levich

The Real Agenda of the Gates Foundation

“You’re trying to find the places where the money will have the most leverage, how you can save the most lives for the dollar, so to speak,” Pelley remarked. “Right. And transform the societies,” Gates replied.1

In 2009 the self-designated “Good Club” – a gathering of the world’s wealthiest people whose collective net worth then totaled some $125 billion – met behind closed doors in New York City to discuss a coordinated response to threats posed by the global financial crisis. Led by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and David Rockefeller, the group resolved to find new ways of addressing sources of discontent in the developing world, in particular “overpopulation” and infectious diseases.2 The billionaires in attendance committed to massive spending in areas of interest to themselves, heedless of the priorities of national governments and existing aid organizations.3

Details of the secret summit were leaked to the press and hailed as a turning point for Big Philanthropy. Traditional bureaucratic foundations like Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie were said to be giving way to “philanthrocapitalism,” a muscular new approach to charity in which the presumed entrepreneurial skills of billionaires would be applied directly to the world’s most pressing challenges:

Today’s philanthrocapitalists see a world full of big problems that they, and perhaps only they, can and must put right.  … Their philanthropy is “strategic,” “market conscious,” “impact oriented,” “knowledge based,” often “high engagement,” and always driven by the goal of maximizing the “leverage” of the donor’s money. … [P]hilanthrocapitalists are increasingly trying to find ways of harnessing the profit motive to achieve social good.4

Wielding “huge power that could reshape nations according to their will,”5 billionaire donors would now openly embrace not only the market-based theory, but also the practices and organizational norms, of corporate capitalism. Yet the overall thrust of their charitable interventions would remain Read the rest of this entry »

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A hongi too far?  What about class lines in politics?

The following article appeared on the site of the International Socialist Organisation yesterday.  It is a critique of ISO’s involvement in the Mana Party and, even more so, a critique of its support to the Mana Internet Party lash-up.  Interestingly, it makes many of the same points that we have been making on Redline; indeed a Redline contributor was already thinking of writing something taking up the article that appeared in Andrew Tait’s name, the article that Martin Gregory begins his examination with.  Since reading Martin’s article, our contributor has decided he needn’t bother as Martin’s article makes the salient points!

We have some rather large disagreements with ISO, however we strongly commend them for running Martin’s article.  The revolutionary left can only benefit by having organisations that are prepared to conduct their political debates in public.  When the original Workers Party and revolution group merged, part of our merger was the decision that members could express their views publicly, rather than enforcing the standard bureaucratic-centralist nonsense that people with minority views had to pretend publicly that they agreed with majority positions.  We always felt this was simply lying to the working class and had no place in a serious revolutionary organisation.

We’re running Martin’s article here for several reasons.  Obviously, we politically agree with most of it; moreover, Martin is a veteran Marxist and trade union activist.  His views carry some weight.  However, we’re also running it because there’s simply no other facility for having a discussion about it.  For instance, there’s no comments section on the ISO site.  As important as this issue may be to ISO itself, it is also a clear dividing line for revolutionaries as a whole.  Simply put, we believe support for the Mana Internet Party lash-up means crossing a class line.  Some on the left recognise a class line when it takes the form of something rather obvious like a picket, but have a great deal of difficulty recognising that there is a class line in politics that is just as important (if not more so).  Mana Internet Party is, whether it lasts three months or three minutes, a cross-class alliance in an imperialist country.  There is no way that it can be justified in terms of fundamental class politics.

We do not believe, obviously, that it is some kind of life-and-death question.  In the overall scheme of things, the lash-up is a relatively small affair.  However, it is important because it does mean people who support the lash-up are crossing class lines and history shows us that crossing class lines almost always begins with something small, something that is accepted on the grounds of being small and for short-term tactical reasons.  This, of course, has a certain logic; it means that the next step in crossing class lines becomes a bit easier, and the one after that easier still.

We hope that people, including ISO members, will respond to Martin’s article here.  While we disagree strongly with some of ISO’s practice, we have no particular axe to grind against them.  We’re not trying to build a rival organisation (and, indeed, when a number of us were leaders of the Workers Party we went out of our way to try to establish a positive working relationship with ISO and get them to join the merger process that we led); we would much rather see ISO adopting consistent revolutionary politics than see it fall apart.  Moreover, we frequently run excellent material produced by ISO’s Australian co-thinkers, Socialist Alternative.

Below is what was published July 3 on the ISO site:

[The ISO recently published an article 'Should Socialists Support the Internet-Mana Alliance?', the product of discussion within our organisation. This is a response and a contribution to the debate from Martin Gregory, a member of our Poneke branch.]

The publication of ‘Should socialists support the Internet-Mana alliance?’ on 18 June on this website marks, in my opinion, a new low-point in the trajectory of the International Socialist Organisation. The article was sanctioned by the ISO’s national committee. A continuation along this track will spell the end of the organisation’s prospects of becoming the nucleus of a revolutionary workers party. Theoretical clarity is essential, and we are losing it.

The developments of the last few months have given the ISO ample opportunities to re-assess its affiliation to Mana and return to principled socialist politics. We have had the prospect of the alliance with Dotcom prior to Mana’s April AGM, the AGM decision to seek alliance, the interval for negotiations, and the announcement of Internet Mana. Unfortunately but a change of direction has not been taken.

So where does the ISO stand on the Internet-Mana alliance? Although not baldly stated, it is clear from ‘Should socialists support the Internet-Mana alliance?’ that the ISO’s publicly declared position is for an Internet Mana party vote. Whether the ISO will support Internet Party candidates in electorates is not discussed. The article is equivocal, although overall it is an apologia for the alliance and the ISO’s continued support for Mana.

One of the contradictions of the article is that it states that the ISO was Read the rest of this entry »

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's new headquarters occupies 900,000-square-feet and cost $(US)500 million

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s new headquarters occupies 900,000-square-feet and cost $(US)500 million

by Sandhya Srinivasan

“There is no better place to have an impact than India.” – Bill Gates1

How much money does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) spend in India?

urban-poverty-in-india-1

According to World Bank figures, 68% of India’s population live on less than $US2 a day

BMGF has a substantial presence in India, directly funding projects totaling at least $1 billion from 2003, when it entered, to 2012.2 Apparently, this does not include funds given to international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that run projects in India. (For example, BMGF has donated a total of almost $1 billion to a single international NGO, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), to conduct and fund various projects; indeed PATH has been described as an agent of the foundation more than a grantee.3 PATH in turn runs projects in India.) In India, BMGF’s activities are largely in the fields of health and nutrition, where it co-funds government programmes, non-governmental organisations’ activities and pharmaceutical companies’ ventures here.

However, BMGF’s funds are small compared to India’s public health expenditure. The latter was $18.3 billion in 2010-11 alone.4 Thus BMGF’s funds as such cannot make a major contribution to meeting the health needs of India. Rather, if BMGF funds were withdrawn or declined, even a small (in percentage terms) increase in allocations by the Central and state governments would more than compensate for the loss.

What are BMGF’s objectives?

Key elements of the BMGF strategy5 – as described on the Foundation website – are as follows:

(i) using partnerships to leverage public and private resources to influence policy;
(ii) using State projects as ‘incubators of innovation’; and
(iii) underscoring the role of technology.

The BMGF strategy (as described on a website page that has since been changed but is available as an archived6 page) says:

“The foundation does not invest in delivering health or education services. Instead, we identify ways to leverage systems and innovate so these services achieve better outcomes for people.
All strategies leverage our partnerships to achieve impact…
All strategies underscore the role of technology.” (emphasis added)

In other words, BMGF’s objective is to influence Government policy. The foundation’s Read the rest of this entry »

Drone1words by Don Franks, pictures by Val Morse

Last Sunday (June 29) a meaningful action took place outside the National Party conference. Participants were opposing the New Zealand state’s support for the drone, a lethal modern weapon of war.

Drones are unmanned aerial military vehicles. The US Obama administration has carried out hundreds of drone strikes against political opponents, killing thousands of Drone2civilian bystanders in the process.

Outside the National Party conference about thirty-five mostly young people in bloodstained clothes lay down and “died” on the driveway at the Michael Fowler Centre.  Above them, on a big speaker stand,  was an almost life-size USA drone. Made of cardboard but shaped and painted to look very real and menacing.

The protesters’ action was timed to coincide with Read the rest of this entry »

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Ali Khamenei: anti-imperialist, nationalist, Islamist

by Yassamine Mather

The sharp improvement in the relations between the United States and the Islamic Republic (and subsequently between the United Kingdom and Iran) has been remarkable – Washington is seriously considering military cooperation with Iran over the civil war in Iraq.

Above all else, this is a reflection of the absence of any strategy by the western powers. All they are pursuing in the Middle East is short-term aims – a situation that goes beyond the politics of the current holders of power in Washington and London. Indeed there is unanimity regarding current tactics between Democrats and Republicans, as well as between Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats.

In 2003, at the time of the invasion of Iraq, the US claimed it would build democracy on the ruins of the Ba’athist regime – we were told that market forces would create the conditions for democracy. No other solution could be contemplated: the entire infrastructure, economic and political, together with the social fabric of the Ba’athist state, had to be destroyed to allow this new system to flourish. During subsequent years both Republican and Democrat politicians have proposed similar solutions for Syria and Iran.

Yet, more than a decade after the invasion of Iraq, we are witnessing a complete U-turn: a softening of attitudes towards Iran, an acceptance of Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship in Syria. Has anything changed in Iran or indeed in Syria to warrant this change of heart? The answer is clearly no. What has changed are immediate geopolitical priorities – the elevation of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) to the position of the main enemy and the US need to ally with anyone as long as they oppose this group of jihadists.

Political commentators used to mock Kurdish organisations in Iranand Iraq for their shallow politics, for aligning themselves with the enemy of their enemy, irrespective of the consequence of such politics. Throughout the last five decades Iraqi Kurds have relied on Iranian support for fighting successive Iraqi governments and Iranian Kurds had, until the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, relied on financial and logistic support from the government in Baghdad. Yet today we seem to be witnessing a superpower, the United States, following the same type of politics in the region.

A lot has been written about Isis and its religious ideas – the forced wearing of the hijab, the attacks on Christian communities in Syria, the banning of alcohol. Of course, in opposition all Islamic groups, Sunni and Shia, are puritanical, following the rules of amr bil maroof and nahi anil munkar (‘guidance for good’ and ‘forbidding evil’). It is when they come to power, as they did in Iran more than 35 years ago, that the population finds out they can be as corrupt and hypocritical as the secular states they replace. So, as Isis brands Shia Muslims ‘apostates’ who have brought Islam into disrepute, it is worth examining the position of religion in Iran – America’s Read the rest of this entry »