March 27 marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Ernie Abbott, caretaker at the Wellington Trades Hall, who was blown up by a bomb in a suitcase left in the foyer of the building; below are the lyrics of a new song by Don Franks about the murder


Ernie Abbott

by Don Franks

Maybe you might know the building, Wellington’s Trades Hall

Not the flashest place in town; it’s dingy, old and small

Where unions keep ticking over, from year to weary year

They seldom make sensations,but thank god, they’re still here

Union people help the working folks in many different ways

Without their efforts we’d have even colder darker days


The end of one grey autumn day, near time to shut the door

Ernie took a one last look around the foyer floor

“Some silly bugger’s left his bag, I’ll stow it,” Ernie said

He grabbed the little handle and a union man was dead

Read the rest of this entry »

by Philip Ferguson

The subordination of China and the racialisation of the Chinese

If it is the social position occupied by Chinese migrant workers, especially in the labour market, which underlay the process of racialisation in the broader society in the later 1800s, not vice versa, those overseeing the process may already have had stereotyped views of the nature of Chinese labour.  These particular views can be explained through the reversal of the positions of Europe and China between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The first important Western account of China, by Marco Polo, was overwhelmingly positive and enjoyed wide influence.[1]  Even more enthusiastic was the Franciscan friar Odoric, whose fourteenth century account was also popular and influential.[2]  In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries China was highly respected by Jesuits who, experiencing the country first-hand, developed “an especially high regard for the Chinese civilisation” and sent back favourable reports to Europe.[3]  Admiration for China reached its height during the Enlightenment.  For Goethe, for instance,

He who knows himself and other

Will also recognise that East and

West cannot be separated


For the French Enlightenment intellectual Voltaire, the East was the civilisation “to which the West owes everything”.[4]  Among these debts were, as Joseph Needham has noted, many of the scientific and technical achievements of western Europe.[5]  Far from being seen as a backward country, marked by despotic rulers and a slavish population, China was used by Enlightenment intellectuals such as Pierre Bayle in the late 1600s and Voltaire in the 1700s as a positive example of toleration, political freedom, reason and progress and used as an argument for these in Europe itself.  Rationality, rather than Oriental despotism, was seen to rule in China and this was contrasted favourably to the ancien regime clinging to power in Europe.  Francois Quesnay, the founder of political economy, “regarded China’s despotism as benign” and saw Chinese agriculture as a model.[6]  While European images of China in the eighteenth century were dominated by France,[7] in Britain, too, respect for China was substantial, although more Read the rest of this entry »

by Michael Roberts

Is inequality the cause of crises (slumps) under capitalism?  Well, the majority of the left seems to think so.  I have discussed this explanation several times on my blog (

US inequalityIt remains the dominant view not only of left economists of the Keynesian or post-Keynesian variety (too many to mention), but also of Marxists like Richard Wolf or Costas Lapavitsas and even some mainstream Nobel prize winners like Joseph Stiglitz (in his book The price of inequality) or the current head of the Indian central bank, Raghuram Rajan (as in his book, Faultlines).  And there have been a host of books arguing that inequality is the cause of all our problems – The Spirit Level by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson being one that’s very popular.  The varied views on this issue were summed up in a compendium, Income inequality as a cause of the Great Recession (

Rising inequality

But what has really excited the inequality proponents is a new paper by the some IMF economists who purport to show that the sharp rise in inequality of income and wealth in most mature capitalist economies since the 1980s is not only a bad moral thing, it’s bad economics too.  The IMF paper (, authored by Jonathan Ostry, deputy head of the IMF’s research department, and the economists Andrew Berg and Charalambos Tsangarides, found not only that inequality is bad for economic growth but that redistribution of wealth does little to harm it.  Thus it refutes the ‘trickle-down’ theory on growth and inequality propounded by neoclassical apologists Read the rest of this entry »


Abu Ahmad Fouad

The interview below took place in February this year, following the seventh national conference of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); the interview was conducted by the PFLP’s media office

In extremely difficult circumstances and exceptional meetings, the Front convened its seventh national conference. In light of the complexities and difficulties facing the Palestinian cause and the political situation in the Palestinian arena, this leads us to ask the following questions:

Question Comrade Abu Ahmad, how do you assess the reality of the Popular Front today, in light of the results of the Seventh National Conference? Can you say that the Front has made a step forward?

Answer. Yes, no doubt about it. The conference of the party is an opportunity to make a quantum leap in its organizational structure, general trends, and the political program of the party, as well as innovation in the leadership ranks.

In regards to the Seventh Conference of the Front, this conference was frequently delayed, and this led to an imbalance in our work over time, particularly in the areas of action in the field of militant and popular struggle. In addition, during the period between the two conferences, some concerns in the party’s structure became apparent, and some of the party’s institutions and leadership sought to overcome red tape, bureaucracy and formalism in the work. This did not prevent Party structures and institutions from making progress and recording substantial achievements, including the growth of the party within the occupied homeland.

The conference, then, was an opportunity to rid ourselves of the negatives which have hung over the body of the party for the past years and to correct our errors at various levels: political, organizational, and Read the rest of this entry »

OTComrade Khalida Jarrar, a leader of the popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has again demanded that the official Palestinian Authority leadership end security cooperation with the occupation and support the steadfastness of the Palestinian people. “The Zionist occupation criminals executed a Palestinian resistance fighter in cold blood who had his will as his only weapon, refused to acquiesce to the occupation and did not give himself up,” said Jarrar.

“Those who one day thought they can co-exist or negotiate with this occupation. . . should reconsider their positions so as to not give the occupation more cover for the continuation if its crimes, most recently the killing of comrade Moataz Washaha and the process of targeted assassination, accompanied by Read the rest of this entry »

www-war-graves-446Saturday 15 March, 9.30am – 1pm

This course looks at how the great powers and their supporting countries came to the great conflagration of the First World War. It examines how the war was a classic struggle between imperialist empires pursuing their own interests while using high-minded language to sell the war both to those expected to fight it and those expected to make the sacrifices on the Home Front. The course will also look at how, while ‘our’ side denounced Germany for invading Belgium, the Allies denied self-determination to people across the globe – before, during and after the war.

Presenter: Philip Ferguson

For further information and enrollment in this course, contact the CWEA, via: or phone Christchurch (03) 366 0825.

Regardless of what its flag looks like, NZ capitalism will continue to exploit and oppress workers here and abroad

Regardless of what its flag looks like, NZ capitalism will continue to exploit and oppress workers here and abroad

by Don Franks

“A flag that unites all New Zealanders should be selected by all New Zealanders. This decision is bigger than party politics,” Key said.

Speaking today at Victoria University, Prime Minister John Key outlined his plans for a referendum on a new New Zealand flag, which would be held after the 2017 election.

When Key, a guy steeped in point-scoring party politics, recognises something bigger, that something must be pretty big. 

Sensing this, Redline readers have been plying us with  questions: here are a sample, with our replies.

Question: Why do we need a flag anyway?

Answer: We don’t. Well, not all of us.

Only a few of us need a flag. Flag manufacturers obviously, and the related trades of flagpole making, Read the rest of this entry »