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 »


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.”


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 »

timthumb.phpby Alan Maass

The US has expanded its air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), adding another element to the deadly mix of conflicts that is inflicting a terrible toll across the region.

US officials announced that their warplanes and drones – in a joint operation with five authoritarian Arab regimes – struck targets in eastern and northern Syria. This expands the war on the Sunni fundamentalists of ISIS beyond Iraq, where the US has carried out nearly 200 attacks since launching air strikes six weeks ago.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, claimed the US targeted ISIS “safe havens” in Syria. But the missiles were aimed at cities like Raqqa, with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants – where ISIS, like any insurgency, has established itself. Civilian casualties – including people who abhor ISIS and oppose its occupations of Syrian cities – are inevitable. According to a human rights monitoring group, eight civilians died in the first round of air strikes, along with “scores of ISIS fighters”.

Bombing yet another Middle Eastern country

So the US is now dropping bombs on another Middle Eastern country, to go along with a half-dozen others where American drones and aircraft rain death from the skies. Obama’s latest war is against a force that arose as a direct consequence of the disastrous occupation of Iraq – and that was initially encouraged in various ways by some of the same Arab “coalition partners” that are also bombing it now. Just as US air strikes against ISIS in Iraq bolstered the repressive Shia-dominated government in Baghdad, the murderous Syrian regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad will use the opportunity of Washington attacking a common enemy to tighten its grip.

US imperialism has created a Read the rest of this entry »

On the 47th anniversary of the murder of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, we’re running a review of his book about his involvement in the revolutionary struggle in the Congo following the overthrow of the radical Patrice Lumumba.  The African Dream: the diaries of the revolutionary war in the Congo was published by Harvill Press in 2000, and this review first appeared in issue 19 of revolution magazine in October 2002.

0by Philip Ferguson

In March 1965, after a two-month trip abroad, Che Guevara was greeted at Havana Airport by Fidel Castro.  He was not seen in public again until his corpse was exhibited in Bolivia in October 1967.

Guevara’s exploits in Bolivia hit the headlines at the time and have been relatively well-recorded, in his own published diaries and various biographies and other works.  His April-November 1965 involvement in the Congo, however, has remained obscure.  The African Dream, based on his Congo diaries and papers written by him immediately after leaving the country, therefore fills an important gap.  This is especially the case as, unlike the Bolivian diaries, with their unflagging optimism, or the heroic depiction of the guerrilla war in Cuba in the late 1950s, this is a warts and all account of a disaster, one which affected Guevara deeply and which had an important impact on his future and on future Cuban state policy.


The Congo involvement was important for a number of reasons.  The early 1960s were still very much the Cold War era – indeed this was shortly after the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’.  Rather than retreat in the face of  US belligerence, the Cubans continued to go on the offensive.

Secondly, unlike Bolivia, which was very much Guevara’s own project, the Congo intervention involved the Cuban state.  High-level Cubans taking part on the ground in the Congo included not only Guevara, but construction minister Osmany Cienfuegos and others.

Thirdly, while it could be argued that there was never any chance of success in Bolivia, the Cubans’ allies in the Congo – essentially the Lumumbist left – had strong bases of support and, on paper anyway, a good chance of defeating the conservative regime backed by Belgium, the United States and apartheid South Africa.  (One of the major figures of the Lumumbist left, a mid-20s Laurent Kabila, did finally succeed in becoming leader of the Congo in 1997, before being overthrown and killed a few years later.)

Fourthly, it was the beginning of Cuba’s long-term involvement in Africa, culminating in Cuban troops playing a key role in driving the South African army out of Angola and helping hasten their retreat from Namibia.  In turn, this hastened the end of apartheid.  After the Congo fiasco, Cuba opted for supporting what it saw as radical regimes in Africa, such as the MPLA in Angola, rather than divided, unreliable and rather feckless ‘liberation’ movements on the continent.

What went wrong?

If the Congolese revolutionaries had a good chance of success, what went wrong?  Essentially, Read the rest of this entry »

by Sandra Bloodworth

If you have ever ‘liked’ a Facebook page, a meme or a comment that equates cops with pigs, you could be in trouble. Melbourne’s Herald Sun included in its sinister portrayal of Hassan El Sabsabi, charged with funding terrorist organisations overseas, the fact that he “‘liked’ a page showing doctored images of [police] with pigs’ heads”.

This wasn’t buried in an obscure article. Nor was it a joke. It was in the first paragraph of a front page article under the screaming headline “SPONSOR A JIHADI”. Just the usual fiesta of reaction we expect from the Herald Sun. But a trawl through the papers and websites of the Murdoch and Fairfa­­­­x press shows how vile all of them are.

Turds and liberals unite in the cause of misrepresentation

It is not just turds like Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun and Paul Sheehan of the Sydney Morning Herald. The Islamophobia permeates all the coverage. A few critical opinions in the Fairfax press made hardly a dent even in those papers.

The sheer amount of space – anything from two to eight pages in every paper nearly every day – sends a clear message: Read the rest of this entry »


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