downloadDue to some serious technical and other problems – like the sickness of one speaker and turnout! – one of the talks that was to be given on the afternoon of Sunday, April 24, will now be given on Monday, May 2 at 6pm, in the Otago Room at the Clubs and Societies building, 84 Albany Street, Dunedin.  This is the talk on The Road to the Rising. We’ll also be showing the promised newsreel footage.

We won’t be doing any postering ourselves for this meeting, so if you know anyone who would be interested in coming along please inform them of this event.

We can also send an electronic copy of a poster for the Monday event, which folks can run off and stick on workplace or other noticeboards.

Also, if you would like to go on the mailing list for Irish politics events in Dunedin, drop a line to us.  There will shortly be a NZ Clann éirígí facebook page, so look out for that too.

Some of us are keen to organise regular talks and film showings on the struggle for national and social liberation in Ireland, so do get in touch.

We are also looking at ways of linking up the cause of workers in Ireland and NZ, for instance maybe organising a talk on ‘James Connolly and the NZ working class’.

 

imagesAntonio Gramsci (1891-1937) was/is a major Marxist thinker, but also one who has been seized upon by reformers who want to smooth down the sharper edges of capitalism rather than get rid of it altogether.  Today, 79 years after his death – he died on April 27 – we are reprinting a set of articles that first appeared in issue #114 (2007) of International Socialism journal.  There are things in this which various folks at Redline might disagree with, such as the use of the term Stalinism’, but the articles in general present an analysis of Gramsci well worth reading and also an antidote to the attempt by ‘radical democrats’ to remake Gramsci in their own likeness.  We have left the IS journal introduction as it was in that publication . . .

The violent conquest of power necessitates the creation by the party of the working class of an organisation of the military type…capable of wounding and inflicting grave blows on…the bourgeois state apparatus…at the decisive moment of struggle.
– Antonio Gramsci to a fellow prisoner of Mussolini in the early 1930s

downloadDuring the lifetime of great revolutionaries the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonise them, to hallow their names while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarising it.
– Lenin, State and Revolution

Few cases better fit Lenin’s comment than that of Antonio Gramsci. Since his death on 27 April 1937 those with attitudes the polar opposite of his have attempted to appropriate his ideas. So the organisers of the conferences in London on the anniversary of his death, in 1977 and 1987, claimed the Gramsci of the Prison Notebooks as somehow justifying their own trajectory from Stalinism to Eurocommunism, and from Eurocommunism to a version of Labourism hostile to the party’s left. The main trend in ‘Gramsci studies’ since then has been, if anything, even more to the right. The name ‘Gramsci’ has gained a respectability in academic circles that ‘Lenin’ and ‘Trotsky’ will never have. Meanwhile, the revolutionary ideas of the real Gramsci are treated as Read the rest of this entry »

No matter how much he squawks the Little bird just can't fly

No matter how much he squawks, the Little bird just can’t get lift-off

by Phil Duncan

In the latest Roy Morgan poll, support for Labour continues to slide.  The poll puts support for this capitalist party at a mere 26%, after months of Labour trying everything it could – like anti-Chinese racism – to get a lift.  Moreover, Andrew Little just hasn’t caught on with the masses.  And so-called political shrewd operator and wonder worker Matt McCarten – Little’s chief go-for – has turned out to be incapable of devising a strategy for success.

Desperate Labour supporters, trying to put a brave face on the stagnation of their party, can only seek solace in the fact that National support has dropped to 42.5%, the lowest in two years.  However, on the figures, taking into account National’s support parties, the current government could be returned for a fourth term in 2017.

Moreover, Labour faces a deeper problem.  In traditional Labour seat after traditional Labour seat, the party has been losing the party vote.  It is only in the big Pacific Island working class seats of south Auckland and the Maori seats that Labour these days has a secure hold on the party vote.  In most other places, it has Read the rest of this entry »

fire-kills

From the firefighters’ 2012 campaign

One of the unions in New Zealand that has been noticeable for defending pay and conditions on the job and solidarising with other workers in struggle has been the firefighters.  They have had some tough battles of their own, but also supported the Auckland port workers in their fight to defend jobs and conditions and, most recently, Auckland health workers.  The NZPFU (New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union) is also the only union to have succeeded in getting a referendum on workers’ rights.  In their case it was about defending jobs.

Firefighters gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures in order to force the government to hold a referendum in December 1995 on the question:  “Should the number of professional firefighters employed full time in the New Zealand Fire Service be reduced below the number employed on 1 January 1995?”

It is interesting that larger unions have not managed to achieve this.  For instance, over a decade later, Unite failed to get sufficient signatures to force a referendum on the minimum wage.

The turnout for the firefighters’ referendum was depressingly low – a mark of the widespread political apathy that resulted in no small part from how workers were smashed by the fourth Labour government and then again in the first term of the fourth National government.  However, the firefighters won the referendum by a landslide, with almost 90% voting ‘yes’.

Some of our most hit-on articles have been on firefighters’ struggles.  At the time it took place, their 2012 dispute briefly became the most hit-on article on Redline, which had come into existence just six months earlier.  Hundreds upon hundreds of firefighters came to the blog and read our main feature article on that struggle, with many also clicking onto articles such as how capitalism works which, among other things, explains how government spending affects private profit rates.

Today, three of our twenty most-read articles have been about firefighters, while one of these articles became the most-read piece on the firefighters’ own facebook page.

Below are pieces we’ve run on the firefighters and their union:

Firefighters call for solidarity with Auckland hospital workers

Fire Service undermining prior learning of firefighters

Christchurch firefighters angry that five years on not a single fire station rebuilt

Small win for firefighters

2.7% rise for the firefighters, 70% rise for their boss

Australian and New Zealand firefighters hold joint conference 

Firefighters giving a lead 

Auckland firefighters solidarity with wharfies 

Firefighters resist vindictive new attack by employers 

 

Protest against NZ role in invasion of Vietnam: NZ imperialism has a long record of attacking other countries and their peoples

Protest against NZ role in invasion of Vietnam: NZ imperialism has a long record of attacking other countries and their peoples

by Phil Duncan

The poppies are out again.  We’re all expected to give to the RSA and to wear one of their poppies to show our respect for NZ combatants who died in wars abroad.  But it doesn’t really take more than a second or two of reflection about Gallipoli, the centrepiece around which war is recalled in NZ and poppies worn, before a couple of questions present themselves.

Why was New Zealand invading Turkey?

What was World War One about?

And there’s the rub.

Was Turkey an imminent threat?  Did it have weapons of mass destruction pointed at little ole New Zealand?

The truth, which seems unpalatable for far too many people in this country, is that NZ was the aggressor.  We were invading them in a war that was about Read the rest of this entry »

Even people like Adair Turner, Baron Turner, head of the Confederation of British Industry, had to face the reality of capitalist malaise

Even people like Adair Turner (Baron Turner), head of the Confederation of British Industry, had to face the reality of capitalist malaise and attack ‘unfettered markets’

The piece below is the text of one of the talks given back at the end of 1997, at a weekend Marxist educa-tional conference organised by revolution magazine in Christchurch; almost 20 years on, it is a mark of the political impasse in society – and the stagnation of much of the left – that it remains relevant.

by Philip Ferguson

At the very time that capitalism has returned to its ‘normal’ features of recession, poverty, social breakdown and war, Marxism is being proclaimed dead by academic commentators, sections of yesterday’s leftists and bourgeois pundits generally.

The latest discovery of the Marxist corpse has been a product of the demise of the Soviet bloc. Genuine Marxists, however, welcomed the implosion of Stalinism, a system and philosophy which had been for sixty years a major bloc to the development of the revolutionary project of human liberation. Its collapse means that one of the key props of capitalist ideology and the West’s ally in maintaining an unjust world order no longer holds power. Today, capitalism has to justify itself on its own merits – and is having an increasingly hard time doing so. Even such a capitalist ideologue as Michael Novak admits that capitalism is getting a bad press now (Christchurch Press, March 18, 1995).

In fact most capitalist commentators, certainly the more sophisticated ones overseas, are decidedly downbeat about the system. Their prognostications are a long way from the triumphalism of the period when the Soviet bloc imploded. Back then an essay called “The End of History” by an obscure figure called Francis Fukuyama was published in the National Interest. It basically argued that the market and liberal democracy had triumphed over all their rivals. The essay summed up the moment for the Western elite and made Fukuyama famous. Subsequently his book, The End of History and the Last Man was an international bestseller. Yet, mirroring the changed moment of the Western elite, his second book, published last year, Trust, is rather more pessimistic. It has to deal with the socially disintegrative trends of a free market system let rip.

Today, then, the concept of the end of history – so recently a cause for celebration in elite circles – has taken on a quite different meaning. It’s more that an Read the rest of this entry »