We wouldn’t normally put up a video this long, however Michael Roberts’ presentation on Marxist crisis theory and the current state of the world economy is one of those occasions where we think it worth putting up the video and not just a link to it.  We frequently run material of Michael’s so for folks who read his stuff on Redline, here’s a lot of what he writes about presented in a very straightforward talk – and with illustrations!  The questions and comments from the audience are also very good, making some important points and allowing Michael to expand on key ideas.

Marx’s crisis theory doesn’t get dealt with much on the NZ left; many of our ‘Marxists’ don’t bother themsevles much with Marx’s most important works, most especially the three volumes of Capital, the Grundrisse and the three-part Theories of Surplus-Value, so we hope there will be a good amount of interest in the video below among NZ readers of ours in particular.

US bombing of Baghdad that preceded invasion; Western intervention destroyed Iraq, creating the present situation

US bombing of Baghdad that preceded invasion; Western intervention destroyed Iraq, creating the present situation

Iraq is facing a catastrophe. The country is now threatened with implosion. The offensive launched in western Iraq, in January, by the fundamentalist Islamic Sunni militia ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) took a new turn on 10 June, when it took over Mosul – the capital of Nineveh Province and Iraq’s second largest city, with 2 million inhabitants. Over the following days, ISIS pushed on further towards the capital, Baghdad and, by the end of June, its fighters were in control of a new Sunni territory straddling across the border between Syria and Iraq.

In front of this ruthless militia, the forces of the regular Iraqi army collapsed, thereby highlighting the fragility of the central state machinery inherited from the western occupation. The leaders of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region seem to have decided to seize this opportunity to declare their independence from Baghdad.

Meanwhile, in the capital and in the southern part of the country, Shia militias are parading in the streets in full military gear, proclaiming their determination to oppose the ISIS advance. Not only is Iraq breaking up, but it may be engulfed in a war with unpredictable consequences for the stability of the whole region.

The imperialist leaders are now worried that this threat of destabilisation might endanger the profits of their companies. After having considered for a while resorting to air strikes, Obama alluded to possible concessions to Iran should its government undertake to do the dirty job of helping to restore order in the region. However Iran did not seem willing to co-operate. In the end, the US leaders confined themselves to sending a few hundred “military advisers” to Baghdad, officially to protect their diplomatic staff, but probably with some special forces as well.

In any case, if anyone is responsible for today’s unfolding catastrophe in Iraq, it has to be the imperialist powers and their endless manoeuvres aimed at reasserting their domination over this part of the world, in order, among other things, to shore up their control over its oil resources. After decades of meddling, the forces unleashed in the region by the imperialist powers – especially by the most powerful among them, US imperialism – are now escaping their control.

The ISIS offensive
For over a year, ISIS fighters have been attacking government forces in the western Al Anbar province, using suicide attacks, taking hostages and carrying out Read the rest of this entry »

Source: The Independent

Source: The Independent

The oil of Iraq has been split in two parts, one officially controlled by the central government of Nuri al-Maliki, the other controlled by a Kurdish council in the north of Iraq. This division, which resulted from the 2003 U.S. war on Iraq, has allowed the big oil companies, led by Exxon, to jump in to gobble up Iraq’s oil.

In 2011, Exxon signed a contract with the central government to pump oil from fields in the south. A few months later, Exxon signed a much more profitable deal with the Kurdish government in the north to drill for oil there. The Iraqi central government soon fell in line, rewarding Exxon and other oil companies with similar, much more favorable terms for the oil companies than they got from Kurdistan. Exxon also signed contracts with the Kurdish government to develop oil fields around Kirkuk, even though the Kurdish government only shared control over those fields with the central Iraqi government.

But oil production in Kurdistan was still held back because the only pipeline to transport the oil from Kurdistan was controlled by the Iraqi central government, which had cut off the Kurdish government from using it. This meant that the only way to get the oil out of Kurdistan was by slow and costly tanker truck.

So, Kurdistan, with the help of Exxon, built its own pipeline to neighboring Turkey, which was promised a very profitable share both in the pipeline company and the oil flowing from Kurdistan – even though for decades, the Turkish government had vehemently opposed the Kurds in Iraq, even invading Kurdistan and massacring them on many occasions.

Even as civil war envelopes Iraq, even as the country threatens to break apart, oil deals are being made, and oil production continues to boom Read the rest of this entry »

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Here are the Facebook Events pages for each of the cities where activities are planned. As more details are confirmed, we will update this information.

It’s important that our voices are heard loud and clear. The whole world is outraged and demanding Israel immediately stops its genocidal war against Gaza, end its siege, end the occupation, stop the annexations, and release the Palestinians prisoners.

WHANGAREI: 7am Water Street. https://www.facebook.com/events/831830976841477/

AUCKLAND: 2pm Aotea Square, Queen St.
https://www.facebook.com/events/495318450613242/

HAMILTON: 2pm Garden Place, Victoria St, City.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1458943344362192

GISBORNE: TBC
https://www.facebook.com/events/1456409514618788

HAWKES BAY: 12noon Hastings Town Clock

PALMERSTON NORTH: 2pm Fitzherbert & Hardie

WHANGANUI: TBC

WELLINGTON: 12pm Cuba Street, (Bucket Fountain), City.
https://www.facebook.com/events/701593493223679

CHRISTCHURCH: 2.30pm Cnr Deans Ave & Riccarton Rd.
https://www.facebook.com/events/273837992801892/

DUNEDIN: 11am Otago Museum http://on.fb.me/Vasglb

Supported by:

Palestine Human Rights Campaign – http://palestine.org.nz/phrc/index.php

Kirk's cabinet and the governor-general (sitting next to Kirk at the front)

Bitter enemies of the working class: Kirk’s cabinet and the governor-general (sitting next to Kirk at the front)

by Philip Ferguson

While pretty much everyone on the left views the fourth Labour government (1984-1990) as obviously anti-working class, illusions remain about most of the other Labour governments, especially the first and third. The Labour prime ministers of the third Labour government are often still seen in a very positive light compared with the National government that followed, led by Robert ‘Piggy’ Muldoon and the fourth Labour government which gave us ‘Rogernomics’. Norman Kirk, who swept into power in a massive victory in late 1972, after 12 years of conservative National government, is still viewed by Labour supporters of the time as Labour’s last “working class hero”, a nostalgia all the more poignant as Kirk died in office in 1974. Bill Rowling, who took over from Kirk, is seen as the gentlemanly politician who was overthrown in a coup by Roger Douglas’ wide boys, respectably fronted by David Lange.

Talk about Kirk usually revolves around his working class roots, how he left school at 14, how he built his own house, how he was largely self-educated, how he ended compulsory military training, provided support for ohu (rural hippy communes), stood up to the French over nuclear testing at Mururoa, and began to seriously address Maori land issues.

What is often lost is that both Kirk and Rowling were absolutely committed to the maintenance of capitalism and thus inevitably prepared to take whatever measures were necessary to protect it. Since the third Labour government coincided with the end of the long postwar boom and the onset of years of recessionary quagmire, their commitment to managing capitalism could only mean Read the rest of this entry »

This article by Ashley Bohrer originally appeared on Al Jazeera, here. Ashley Bohrer is a queer feminist Jewish activist and academic based in Chicago. She is a founding member of Jews for Justice in Palestine.

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As the latest round of Israeli fire reigns down on Gaza, a problematic discourse has resurfaced in the West. This discourse seeks to convince white Americans and Europeans that supporting Israel is an imperative for women, LGBTQ-identified individuals and their allies.

This line of thinking alleges that Israel has enacted legal protections for LGBTQ folks and is therefore a bastion of liberty for queers in the Middle East. The rhetoric of many mainstream feminist outlets has been similar, arguing that because Jewish women enjoy legal equality with Jewish men in Israel, women and feminists are obliged to support the current campaign of terror and destruction in Gaza.

Examples of this troubling and misleading argumentation can be read in James Duke Mason’s article for The Advocate on July 9, Robert Trestan’s article for The Rainbow Times, and any number of articles by arch-conservative Phyllis Chesler, including one published on July 26 at Israel National News.

This “pinkwashing” of Israel not only plays on a variety of racist and Islamophobic tropes Read the rest of this entry »

The article below was written last year on the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration by Joseph Massad, Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University.  It appeared on the Al Jazeera site, here.

SONY DSCOslo Accords

In the wake of the 1973 War, the US had started an earlier version of the so-called “peace process”, one that fully adopted Vladimir Jabotinsky’s model. The US was represented by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Kissinger’s plan, which would lead in a few years to Egypt’s capitulation at Camp David, was to eventually include the PLO in “peace” talks, whereby the organisation would only be invited after Egypt, Jordan, and Syria had recognised and accepted the irreversibility of the Jewish settler-colony. Kissinger declared: “We need first to get them [PLO] under control and bring them only at the end of the process.”

Recognising that talking to the PLO of the 1970s, which, even then, was willing to concede many of the rights of the Palestinian people, but was still not ready to fully resign itself to the irreversibility of Jewish colonisation, Kissinger added, “We cannot deliver the minimum demands of the PLO [at present] so why talk to them?” Kissinger explained that “recognition will come at the very end after the Arab governments have been satisfied.” While the US could not deliver the minimum to the PLO in the 1970s, Israel would be able to do so in the 1990s.

It was in this context that 20 years ago the PLO accepted to fully surrender to Israel and accept its colonisation of Palestine in what came to be known as the Oslo Accords. The abandonment of the anti-colonial struggle would be first formalised with the unofficial dissolution of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, especially the “Liberation” part of its name, and its re-emergence as the Palestinian National Authority (PA), an authority that no longer sought to liberate anything, much less offer any resistance to colonialism. Instead, the PA would offer its services to Israel by collaborating with its forces in suppressing Read the rest of this entry »