by Peter Manson

Cape Town has just played host to the “largest global gathering of trade unions ever to take place in Africa”, in the shape of the December 7-10 world congress of the Swiss-based UNI Global Union. Originally called Union Network International, UNI groups together 900 service-sector unions worldwide – including the Communication Workers Union and Connect in Britain – with a total membership of 20 million.

Hosting this gathering of 2,000 delegates was seen as a bit of a coup for both the African National Congress government and the main trade union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions. However, two embarrassing factors have removed a good deal of the gloss. The first is the rolling power cuts – “load shedding”, as they are called – whereby every day the state-owned electricity supplier, Eskom, desperately tries to get round its disastrous lack of capacity and failure to maintain the grid by pulling out the plugs for a couple of hours. These rotating cuts, currently taking place at the height of the South African summer, are due to go on until 2016 at the very earliest. Inevitably, it will be the working class and poor, with no access to private generators, who will be worse affected.

The second embarrassment takes the form of the split in Cosatu driven by the South African Communist Party. In the early hours of November 8, a special meeting of Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) voted by 33 votes to 24 to expel its largest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa). Led by Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini and National Union of Mineworkers general secretary Frans Baleni, the SACP loyalists insisted that the 350,000-strong Numsa must be booted out because of its desertion of the ANC and rejection of the ANC-SACP-Cosatu triple alliance.

The leaders of every Cosatu union are (or were) SACP members – and that applies to Numsa and its general secretary, Irvin Jim. But, after two decades of cuts, privatisation and attacks on the working class, a good number of them, with the Numsa leadership in the fore, have finally realised Read the rest of this entry »

InternetMana alliance ends

Posted: December 15, 2014 by Admin in New Zealand politics

The alliance between the Internet and Mana parties has formally ended.  The alliance, which was also supported by the left groups operating within the Mana Party, cost Mana dearly.  They lost the Te Tai Tokerau seat and Annette Sykes was pushed back to third place in Waiariki, a seat which Mana previously had a chance of winning.

Laila Harre, meanwhile, is moving on.  She has announced her resignation as Internet Party leader and as a party member.  This move only serves to point up even more starkly the hollow nature of the IP and the almost surreal nature of the unprincipled InternetMana hook-up.

The farce was further highlighted by the fact that InternetMana had an electoral war chest of somewhere between three and four million dollars, thanks to Kim Dotcom, but they received only 34,000 votes.  This meant about $100 per vote!  By contrast National probably got a vote for roughly every three dollars they spent!  Even Colin Craig’s vanity project got a lot more bang for Craig’s buck.

Unlike the left groups within Mana, we argued against the alliance all the way through and most of us decided not to vote for Mana (or anyone else).  We saw the oncoming train wreck, but most leftists involved in Mana were far too Read the rest of this entry »

canstock13273778Election 2014, the Mana Movement and the left

What is to be done about the radical left in New Zealand?

The miseries of political life

Making our own revolutionary kaupapa and fighting for it


images-1What is exploitation?

How capitalism works – and why it doesn’t

4,000 words on Capital

Karl Korsch on “tremendous and enduring” impact of Marx’s Capital (1932)

Marx’s critique of classical political economy


Karl Marx

Capital, the working class and Marx’s critique of political economy

Capital and the state

State companies, capital and the left

State intervention: a handout to capital

How capitalist ideology works

Pilling’s Marx’s Capital: philosophy, dialectics and political economy

How capitalism under-develops the world 

Our top 30 of all time

Posted: December 13, 2014 by Admin in Blog News

Our top 30, beginning at #1

imagesGreater even than Rugby – the 1981 Springbok Tour protests

The 1981 anti-tour protests and their lessons for today

Gallipoli invasion: a dirty and bloody business

The secret history of WW2 in New Zealand

Progressive singer-songwriter David Rovics banned by New Zealand Immigration

Whatever happened to the leisure society?

How capitalist ideology works

downloadThe legacy of Che

Class, gender, the 1960s and Made in Dagenham

Behind the 1951 waterfront lockout

South Auckland misunderstood

Creepy old Gandhi: demystifying the Mahatma

On the 25th anniversary of homosexual law reform: gay liberation or crumbs from parliament?

Read the rest of this entry »

For some reason the comments section won’t open for some of the re-posted articles.  So if you want to comment on the articles that have gone up in the past few days but which seem to be closed for comment, you can comment here.

The material below, including the introduction, first appeared on Redline in June 2011 – just as this blog was beginning – although it was written and appeared elsewhere in 2008 and 2009.  Five-six years on, it is increasingly acknowledged on the left that the Key government are not hardened neo-liberals with a secret agenda to finish the job begun by Labour and National (‘Rogernomics’ and ‘Ruthanasia’) in the 1984-93 period.  It’s a sad comment on the NZ left that no-one has had the good grace to say, “Hey, you folks were right” – especially those who attacked us for our analysis – but unfortunately chunks of the left here are rather mean-spirited and that’s the way it is until we have a new left.  We’re highlighting these pieces again, however, primarily because of the discussion set off by the recent OECD report.

johnbillFrom before the 2008 election to today, confusion has reigned on the left about the nature of the National government. People involved in this blog have been to the forefront in trying to analyse the government and its actions in the context of the actual process of capital accumulation in New Zealand today – ie analyse the Key-English government from a Marxist point of view – rather than fall into the left’s tendency to simple-minded Nat-bashing. Nat-bashing may have a ‘feelgood’ factor for many but is useless in understanding what is going on and why – and why Labour is no better.

Below are pieces written during the course of the current government, two of which originally appeared in Party Notes, the internal bulletin of the Workers Party. Party Notes used to contain the minutes of the monthly WP steering group meetings and political pieces designed to guide the work of the organisation. The third was written in February 2009 and first appeared in the April 2009 issue of The Spark.

These pieces argued that the government was not about to launch a cut-throat attack to smash the working class, as claimed by much of the left. The reason for this is that the productivity gains to be made by making workers work harder, longer and faster had largely been made and had failed to inject new dynamism into the economy. The key problem for NZ capitalism is the low rate of productivity growth and this was what the ruling class would be trying to address. At the same time, we noted there would be attacks on the public sector because it is still largely financed out of surplus-value and therefore tends to be a partial drain on profits. If the economic situation worsened significantly, moreover, all bets were off.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be putting up more pieces people involved in Redline wrote in the last couple of years on government policy in the context of the real problems faced by the New Zealand economy, and new material on the state of play at present. Read the rest of this entry »