Smuggling through the tunnel network helped alleviate poverty in Gaza

Smuggling through the tunnel network helped alleviate poverty in Gaza

by Michael Roberts

Think of a prison. It’s overcrowded; it lacks modern facilities and it is a daily struggle for the prisoners to survive. The prison wardens are well equipped for security. Their governors come and go. Some are ‘liberal’ and try to reach a harmonious relationship with the prisoners and even improve conditions, although they do not release them. They would prefer that they did not exist.

The problem is that the prisoners to a man and a woman feel that they are unjustly imprisoned with the judge and jury in the pockets of the corrupt and racist governors. So occasionally, they rebel and even kill some of the wardens in prison riots or assassinations. Then tyrannical and sadistic governors take over and, with the backing of enraged wardens, carry out punitive attacks on the prisoners, killing and injuring many of them. The wardens also destroy the prison facilities every so often, reducing the conditions of the prisoners to the level of barbarism.

Eventually, the wardens, with the help of foreign money, agree to allow the prison to be rebuilt with the labour of the prisoners themselves. But the prisoners do not end their burning hatred of the wardens, the governors and the system behind them. That system is composed of militarists backed by religious fanatics and foreign money looking to support the governors and to make money out of their prison. So nothing is resolved. Prisons don’t work to restore social harmony but releasing the prisoners, in the eyes of the governors and their backers, would open the door to fatal attacks on them.

Economic collapse

This is Gaza and Israel in a simplistic way. The terrible cost of human life and injury or ‘collateral damage’ – as the Israeli wardens prefer to call it – on the prisoners of Gaza is compounded with the collapse of Gaza’s fragile economy. The Israelis say their attacks are aimed at destroying the tunnels used by Hamas (the prisoners representatives) to attack Israel. Actually most of the tunnels are in the opposite direction and designed to smuggle into this prison that is Gaza the raw materials for construction and the economy. Everything from diapers to Read the rest of this entry »

This morning marked the 100th anniversary of NZ’s entry into the First Great Imperialist Global Slaughter, aka the First World War.  Read some of our features:

Gallipoli invasion: a dirty and bloody business

Stevan Eldred-Grigg’s ‘The Great Wrong War: NZ society and WWI’

Empty Garden: Wellington’s National War Memorial Park

New Zealand’s ruling elite, moreover, had long cast covetous eyes over chunks of the South Pacific, but they usually lost out to bigger imperialist fish. WW1, however, allowed them to invade German-ruled Samoa and rule over it for nearly 50 years.

See: Samoa: what New Zealand did



bridge workers

The Great Depression: atrocious safety conditions, no union rights, as steel-erecters enjoy a 15-minute lunch-break, (New York, 1932, photo Charles Ebbets). Notice how every worker is socially immersed with another worker, except the worker with the whisky bottle on the right.

A modern, living dialectics is essential for social revolution, Steve Masterson continues to explain in this, the fourth in his series on the subject

To continue the logic of the significance of systems theory, chaos and order for a new dialectics, we need to try first grasp the nature of the relationship between the ‘productive forces’ of Marx and of his constant promotion of ‘human development’ and ‘the rich human being’. This will then put in context everything that follows in terms of the burning need for a modern science on the character and quality of human activity (praxis); the new living dialectics needed today to help complete a truly human revolution.

I begin this article quoting then reviewing three of the greatest ever explanatory paragraphs from Marx found in his short 1859 preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. This was written at a time that today seems as ancient language to most of us – but not this piece if read diligently. Today, the best academic sociologists and social scientists do not even begin to reach such heights of clarity and truth, nor did the Stalinists who also quoted and distorted it. Marx mentions the ‘productive forces’; I interpret this as, ‘the totality of human forces, as the technological, social, labour and productive forces’. These forces should mainly be considered as ever-developing, ever-richer and increasing human abilities in general.

Then we look at its significance for human development, the key aspect of the productive forces, in the here and now, and its role in building a potential future human society. We do this by quoting the brilliant Marxist Michael Lebowitz on human development (who also repeatedly quotes Marx). A living dialectical method and a new science of everyday human activities, of conscious revolutionary praxis (they are both the same thing in the end), will start to be outlined in the following articles. But first, the significance of human development for the social revolution has to be clarified, just to put things in context.

‘Mensch’ in German/Yiddish means ‘human being’ or ‘a person of integrity and honour’, so please do understand what is nowadays rightly considered a sexist translation when Marx uses the term ‘men’ in this way. I’d also alert the Reader to be aware of how often and how, even in this short quote, Marx uses words like ‘development’, ‘forces’, ‘contradiction’, ‘transformation’ or ‘process’ as central concepts of  always ongoing change. He doesn’t use Read the rest of this entry »

imagesby Don Franks

A popular bumper sticker argues, “If you skip voting it’s not rebellion – it’s surrender”.

I don’t think it’s either of those things.

This election I won’t be voting, because, after considering all the options, none of them do it for me.

Although this time round I did consider the possibility of voting for the lesser evil.

That would have meant voting for the National Party. As a tired older worker with many hours toilet cleaning behind me I was very pleased to pass go at 65 and get my pension.

Labour vows to raise the pension age, which will hurt low-paid manual workers and Maori.

National has pledged not to raise the pension age. Sure, political promises mean little, but John Key has staked his reputation on this one, saying he would resign if he broke his word.  So, I was tempted to vote National on this issue of great importance to me.

I won’t though.

Parties of privilege

National is a party of privilege who openly hold the working class in contempt.

In my experience, the Labour Party also hold the working class in contempt.

Over many years I’ve been on Read the rest of this entry »

khalidaj-300x187Comrade Khalida Jarrar, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said on July 20 that any Palestinian leadership must be committed to the option of resistance, the people and their right to defend themselves.

In comments to Palestine Today, Jarrar denounced the statements of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas regarding the aggression on the Gaza Strip, saying that “The leadership today appears to exist in a different reality from the situation of the Palestinian people in the streets.” She demanded a full and immediate end to security coordination with the enemy, saying that these security commitments by the Palestinian Authority keep the Palestinian people at the mercy of the occupation.

She also demanded Read the rest of this entry »

Tucker time at Jerusalem, James K. Baxter on right

Tucker time at Jerusalem, James K. Baxter on right; photo from teara site

by Don Franks

James Baxter’s 1970s Jerusalem commune on the Whanganui river was a singular rural crash pad.

A place where all the social rules I’d previously known and thought to be set in concrete were either bent, bypassed or broken.

You could lie around all day and still get to line up for whatever passed for a feed at night. You could – within limits – exercise the option of ‘first up best dressed’. If you lit a cigarette it was expected that you’d pass it round the company so everyone could have a drag off it.

Once in a while one or two commune members would go to town, do a week’s work and bring basic groceries home for everyone else. Or we’d do small cash jobs for one of the locals. Not the basis for a lasting economic system but fun for a while.

Mostly we spent a lot of time just sitting round enjoying the beautiful bushy valley.

One day I was doing that after cutting up some willow for firewood and I thought for the first time: hey, everything’s Read the rest of this entry »

The following article is from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, here.


The Zionist enemy carried out a horrific massacre today against the civilians of Shuja’iya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, targeting homes with mortars, tanks, missiles and aircraft, killing dozens of martyrs and wounding hundreds, where many remain under the rubble of their destroyed homes amid a barrage of shells and rockets.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine pledged that the blood of the martyrs of the Shuja’iya massacre, of the war crimes and genocide committed by land, air and sea in every inch of Gaza against civilians in their homes, children, women, and the elderly, will not be wasted, and that the enemy will never be able to break the will and steadfastness of our people and their valiant resistance which will fight and resist this cowardly and criminal enemy until the last breath.

The Front noted that the Zionist criminal occupation has brought Read the rest of this entry »