Cops in the six counties (‘Northern Ireland’) block activists from the revolutionary movement éirígí in Newry.

Below we’re running an article by the Irish revolutionary-socialist group Socialist Democracy.  While parts of it deal with the particularity of the cops in the two statelets on the island of Ireland, it also makes wider points about the role of the cops, applicable in all capitalist societies, including here in New Zealand.  We’ve very slightly edited it and provided an explanation of several terms to make it more accessible to non-Irish readers.

The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker – Leon Trotsky. 

It is not surprising, given the constant stream of propaganda that daily reinforces bourgeois ideology, that some workers should become convinced that the police are somehow above the demands of the class struggle. Revolutionaries see the police and army as the repressive organs of the state but reformists see the police as simply a group of ‘workers in uniform’, that will be driven by objective economic contradictions towards ‘revolutionary’ change. All that is required is to maintain ‘comradely’ relations with the rank and file of the state forces. Engels, Marx, Lenin and Trotsky were under no such illusions. 

For Engels there was no ambivalence about the role of the police and the state, particularly in Read the rest of this entry »

Jorge Medina, Sandro Salazar and René Córdoba with Wendy at Donnelleyby Wendy Z. Goldman

In late September, I was invited to Buenos Aires to speak about the recent Spanish translation of a book on the Bolshevik vision of women’s liberation that I first published in 1993, Women, the State, and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917-1936.  The book, translated and published by Pan y Rosas (Bread and Roses), a socialist women’s organization, received a new life when it was published in Spanish in Argentina, and then in Portuguese by Boitempo in Brazil.  Workers and students embraced the ideas that the Bolsheviks had put into practice almost a century ago.

indexIn Buenos Aires, I spoke to a crowded auditorium of 700 workers, students, and faculty.  Workers came from the Lear plant, from the transportation sector, and from other factories.   One of the most moving comments was made by an older domestic worker who came up to the stage.  She explained that she spent her entire life cleaning the houses of wealthy people.  “The Bolsheviks talked about the socialization of household labor,” she said.  “Today, only women do this work.  And if a woman is wealthy enough, she pays another women like me to do it.”  One of the members of Pan y Rosas later told me that some of the women workers in the audience cried when they heard about the early socialist vision for transforming daily life and human relationships.

As part of my visit, Celeste Murillo and Andrea D’Atri, two committed members of Pan y Rosas and Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (Party of Socialist Workers), took me to the Donnelley printing factory, which had recently been taken over by workers.  For me, the factory immediately conjured images of the early soviets in Russia in 1917.  Russian workers, like their latter day comrades in Argentina, had also been propelled into Read the rest of this entry »

Key at the Big Day Out: the Nats are no longer the party of whisky-soaked, racist homophobes

Key at the Big Gay Out: the Nats are no longer the party of old, whisky-soaked, racist homophobes

by Philip Ferguson

Throughout the past six years, those of us involved in Redline (and, before that, in the Workers Party/Anti-Capitalist Alliance) have consistently noted that the Key-English government is not a neo-liberal regime.  They are not, and never intended to be, pursuing some ‘secret agenda’ of imposing a full-on ne0-liberal economic programme on New Zealand, finishing off the work of Douglas and Richardson, as much of the left claimed throughout that time.

Our insistence on an actual analysis of the policies of the government and situating those policies as responding to the actual needs of New Zealand capital didn’t make us especially popular.  Indeed, some folks on the left seemed positively annoyed that we wouldn’t join in their consensus on Key, no matter how daft their, essentially, emotional non-analysis was – and how weird it appeared to the person in the street.

The thumping victory of National in the September elections, a victory which was signaled well in advance in the polls where National was recording twice the support of Labour, has led to some reconsideration among some of the leftists who once demonised the Key-English government.  Among some a more sober and rational analysis has appeared.

The first to break ranks was Read the rest of this entry »

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Public beheadings are common in Saudi Arabia; in August, for instance, four men were beheaded for smuggling marijuana into the country. At one point, however, due to a shortage of swordsmen, regional governors were given the power to use firing squads to carry out death sentences. Interestingly, we never hear about these executions – and certainly not in the Christchurch Press – but, then, Saudi Arabia is one of Washington’s key allies.

The following is a letter to the editor of the Christchurch Press, sent by a regular Redline reader

You recently chaired a session on Freedom of Speech at the Christchurch Writers Festival – I wonder how this can be consistent with the Press‘ support for John Key’s move to drag NZ into fear and anxiety using dubious claims of impending terrorism? The Press has given up the opportunity to ask basic questions and make basic points in a nation where at least these press freedoms still exist.

So, says the Prime Minister, we should be afraid of the extremism and brutality of ISIS?  I wonder why these standards of human rights were seldom applied by Western media to Saudi Arabia, Saddam Hussein or Turkey when it mattered?  Saudi Arabia’s religious extremism makes Iran look friendly.

Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds and terrorised his own people with impunity when it suited the US.  And Turkey murdered tens of thousands of Kurds with US Read the rest of this entry »

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Fighters of the Syrian-Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units)

The following statement appeared on the PFLP site yesterday

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine expresses its solidarity with the Kurdish resistance in Kobane struggling to defend themselves and their community from the reactionary armed group, ISIS, whose entry into our region has been facilitated and supported by imperialist powers and their lackeys.

Comrade Khaled Barakat said that “All Palestinian and Arab revolutionary forces should unify their efforts to support the struggle of the Kurdish resistance in Kobane against ISIS and their imperialist supporters.”

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Khaled Barakat

People in Syria, Iraq and everywhere in the region have been under attack by imperialism – an attack that comes not only through air strikes and occupation, but through the support of reactionary regional powers, through the promotion of sectarianism, and through reactionary armed groups carrying out a program of sectarian chaos. They have sought to replace the central conflict in the region – that of the people with Zionism and imperialism – with sectarianism and the imposition of massive, reactionary violence against minority groups who are an integral part of the region, while these same reactionary armed groups leave the Zionist state and imperialist forces untouched. These attacks have been taking place simultaneously with the latest Zionist genocidal assault against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

“We stand with the people of Syria who are defending their unity against all attempts to partition the country and plunder its resources for the benefit of imperialism. This is the goal of ISIS and its allies,” Barakat said.

“Today, Kurdish fighters, women and men, struggle for their Read the rest of this entry »

Photo: Sean Willis

Photo: Sean Willis

by Philip Ferguson

Today has seen one-hour strike action and pickets by sections of ANZ bank workers around the country, with other sections on strike tomorrow.  The strikes and pickets follow the breakdown of negotiations between the bank workers union, FIRST, and the employer, the bosses calling a halt to negotiations after just a day whereas the union favoured three days of negotiations.

There are two issues which the workers and union are particularly concerned about – one is the attempt by the employer to impose greater ‘flexibility’ of working days and hours and the other is pay.

In the last financial year ANZ, the biggest bank in New Zealand, reported a massive profit of $1.37 billion.  This year the bank looks like it may top that profit figure by up to 20 percent.  Its CEO, David Hisco, received $4.2 million last year in pay.  That’s over $2,000 an hour, whereas long-serving frontline staff are on around $25 an hour maximum.

Sitting on his $2,152 an hour, Hisco is offering only a 2% pay rise this year to call centre and back of office staff, plus two percent over two years.  The general ANZ bank workers, the actual frontline staff, are being offered 3% this year and 2.25% next year.

Equally grating is the attempt to introduce a rostering system for new employees which will mean that bank workers’ days and hours of work can be changed month to month and without any guarantee that their work hours will be spread evenly over each day and week.

How are workers to have lives of their own Read the rest of this entry »

We’ve asked several readers to contribute their thoughts on the way forward for the left after the 2014 elections.  The people we invited cover a range of viewpoints from class-struggle anarchist to independent Marxist and include at least one person involved in the Mana Movement.  Rather than invite well-known left individuals, who already have plenty of platform space elsewhere, we’ve invited people who have been battling away as much as they can in their own ways across a number of campaigns and groups.  This is the second contribution in the series.

by O’Shay Muir

The main reason that I was quickly drawn to Redline was the fact that, compared to the majority of socialist organisations in New Zealand, Redline was not quick to jump on the bandwagon of every local or international protest movement. Instead of the usual left-wing opinionated blog journalism, I found a group of people that actually understood the meaning of materialist analysis. To me this was a breath of fresh air. It had not been since my time as a recent college graduate who was first getting acquainted with Marxism by poking my nose into the meetings of the Workers Party in the Auckland Trades Hall, where I was exposed to The Spark, that I had come across actual Marxian analysis of the situation in New Zealand. Although I was far from the most dedicated cadre, my time spent with the Workers Party was always productive and most importantly educational.

After having lost touch with the Workers Party and returning from a stint in OZ, I decided to once again get involved with socialist politics in New Zealand, but times had changed. The Workers Party that I had once known was a shell of its former self (soon to become Fightback). I was told that people like Phil, Don and Daphna had abandoned the class struggle in New Zealand and instead had chosen to become armchair Marxists. I bothered not to ask too much about the situation, as I thought to myself that it was simply a case of party politics that did not concern me, so instead I decided to just go along with the new Workers Party. However I was quick to find out that this was not the Workers Party I had once known. There was something missing. That something was a strong theoretical base.

Mana Movement and impact on radical left

I first began to notice this through the Workers Party’s/Fightback’s staunch support of the Mana movement. Truth be told, I too thought that supporting Mana was a good idea. This position of mine began to change. Wanting to get back into socialist politics I thought to myself that I better polish up on my Marxist theory and what better way of doing that than trying to tackle the first volume of Capital. The more I began to understand Capital the more sceptical I became of the welfarism of Mana and groups like Fightback and Socialist Aotearoa who had jumped on the social democratic bandwagon. Then I discovered Redline, home of the ‘armchair Marxists’ that I had been warned about. But rather than finding the ramblings of old disgruntled leftists, who should simply shut up and make way for fresh blood (this was a common opinion that I found amongst many of the young activists involved with Socialist Aotearoa), I found a group of people that had the discipline to put their own revolutionary fantasies to one side and instead engage with proper analysis of capital accumulation.

While I still maintained some hope in Mana, that quickly began to change once they teamed up with Read the rest of this entry »