Official British Labour Party anti-immigrant merchandise from the last election.

In a recent longer article on two by-elections in Britain and their meaning for politics there, Kenan Malik made the following point/s about the Labour Party in Britain:

“At the heart of its crisis lies the question: What is the Labour Party for?

“Labour lost its status as the party of the working class long ago. A recent opinion poll on party popularity found that among working-class voters, Labour had fallen far below the Conservatives and even into third place behind UKIP. Over the past 30 years, Labour, like many social-democratic parties, has transformed itself into a party appealing primarily to the metropolitan middle class, a large proportion of which voted to remain in the European Union. In the wake of the referendum, many such supporters are switching allegiance to the Liberal Democrats, the most pro-European of British political parties. One poll suggested that the Liberal Democrats could overtake Labour at the next general election.

“The trouble with Labour is that the party simply no longer Read the rest of this entry »

The following statement was endorsed by Dunedin PSA union members at Dunedin Public Library and the University of Otago: 

Solidarity with Auckland Libraries workers!

PSA and TEU members at Dunedin Public Libraries and University of Otago libraries stand in solidarity with their colleagues and fellow workers at Auckland Libraries who are undergoing an incredibly divisive and unsettling restructuring process. We oppose Auckland Council’s plans to disestablish hundreds of roles and force workers to reapply for a diminished number of jobs. This restructuring is being cynically sold to the public as a future-proofing exercise whereas we recognise it for what it is – simple cost cutting.

There appears to be insufficient recognition by Auckland Council of the vital social and educational role of public libraries in a democratic society. Libraries provide educational, informational and recreational resources which contribute to the development of literacy and critical thinking – vital components of today’s society.

Reducing staffing across the board is Read the rest of this entry »

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The following article first appeared in issue #6 of revolution magazine, May-June 1998.  Although nearly 20 years old, the article – which is actually based on talks given between 1995-97 – unfortunately remains highly relevant.

by Philip Ferguson

Over the last few years the term ‘political correctness’ has started to enter the vocabulary here.  Originating with a layer of liberals and leftists in the United States, politically correct practices and outlooks have gained a hold among elements of the professional classes in New Zealand.  The Anna Penn case in 1993, in which a trainee nurse was expelled from the nursing course at Christchurch Polytech for allegedly being “culturally unsafe”, and several cases in other nursing schools and social work courses, have garnered widespread media coverage.

In many ways, political correctness is stronger in New Zealand than anywhere else in the world.  It has become an important industry, with lucrative financial rewards, for a host of touchy-feely middle class liberals.  We have a range of counsellors now operating in most spheres of human problems, along with various consultancy agencies and individuals doing very nicely for themselves advising establishment institutions on how to be “culturally sensitive” to the people upon whose oppression these institutions depend.

In a real sense, political correctness in New Zealand has become the new Read the rest of this entry »

Tame Iti and mate Jenny Shipley, the Tory prime minister of NZ at the time.

The article below first appeared in issue #14 of revolution magazine, dated Xmas 2000/March 2001.  The introduction to the article stated that it argued “Trendy liberal race relations nostrums are more about social control than emancipation”.  Footnotes have been added for this re-publication. 

by Philip Ferguson

From cultural safety in nursing training to the banning of vegetables from primary school play groups – use of vegetables to make, for example, potato stamps is now regarded as ‘culturally insensitive’ because ‘traditional’ Maori society didn’t use spuds for such frivolous activities – Maori culture appears to be increasingly important and respected.

Virtually everyone from the far left through to much of the National Party (with the exception of the minor-league redneck element typified by the now-retired John Banks)[1] appears to be in favour of cultural diversity and the ‘empowerment of Maori.

Yet, as has been noted in this magazine before, the cultural revival coincides with a worsening of the actual material conditions of the majority of Maori (see, in particular, revolution #7) and the collapse of old forms of collective class organisation.  It is in this situation that some Maori have retreated into idealised versions of the past.  This retreat coincides with an interest on the part of the ruling class in finding new forms through which to mediate conflicting interests and establish social control in the midst of the decay of society itself.

Changing ruling class ideology

The ruling class ideology today is clearly not the one which existed in the decades before 1984 and was reflected in commitment to the welfare state, monoculturalism and the kind of old-fashioned patriotism and nationalism epitomised by powerful right-wing groups like the Returned Servicemen’s Association (RSA).

Today’s ruling class, for instance, actively promotes multiculturalism, liberal pluralism and has no problem with homosexuality and other things that were taboo in the past.  A lot of formal legal inequality has been abolished as it was an obstacle to the needs of a new round of capital accumulation and the new style of managing an increasingly fragmented society.

For someone seen as right-wing economically, such as recent National Party prime minister Jenny Shipley, ‘respect for difference’ is a key principle, as she made clear when Read the rest of this entry »

A guard sits on the rubble of the house of Brigadier Fouad al-Emad, an army commander loyal to the Houthis, after air strikes destroyed it in Sanaa, Yemen June 15, 2015. Warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition bombarded Yemen’s Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa overnight as the country’s warring factions prepared for talks expected to start in Geneva on Monday. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX1GJK0

by The Spark

Upon taking office, President Trump has intensified U.S. military attacks on Yemen. He gave the okay for the very early morning raid of January 29 by U.S. special forces, supported by helicopter gunships and armed Reaper drones, on the rural village of Yakla. And in early March, Trump demonstrably stepped up U.S. bombing of Yemen, with 40 bombing raids in less than a week.

According to the Trump administration, both the raid and the bombings targeted fighters belonging to the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda. But in reality, it was the civilian population that suffered the brunt of the casualties. In Yakla alone, at least 25 civilians, including 10 children under the age of 13, were killed, with dozens more people wounded.

Just like in Syria, Iraq and Libya, the population in Yemen has been caught in the crossfire between imperialist bombs and Islamic militias – with the difference being that the news media has paid much less attention to events in Yemen.

Yemen, the small and very impoverished country at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is located at a crossroads for the entire region. Every day, Read the rest of this entry »

McGuinness’ coffin being carried through Derry city on Tuesday. His funeral is today (Thursday).  At front is his successor, Michelle O’Neill, with Gerry Adams at rear.

For people interested in Irish politics, check out material on Martin McGuinness and his political trajectory from revolutionary republican and socialist to bourgeois nationalist over on The Irish Revolution site.

The changing faces of Martin McGuinness

Martin McGuiness: a political obituary (written when he announced his resignation from Stormont, due to ill-health)

 

The piece below is taken from the site of Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, here, March 20.  Please support their work. 

Two Palestinian prisoners are currently on hunger strike to demand their release from indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention. Mohammed Alaqimah of Jenin has been on hunger strike for 24 days, even after his health has deteriorated. He was joined by Raafat Shalash, 34, of al-Khalil, currently on his fifth day of hunger strike against administrative detention without charge or trial.

Alaqimah, 27, from the vilage of Barta’a, has been imprisoned without charge or trial since 16 August 2016. He launched a hunger strike for eight days in late December after his four-month administrative detention order was renewed. He launched his current hunger strike against the renewal once again of his imprisonment without charge or trial. Alaqimah is married and a father of two.

Shalash, from Beit Awwa village, held in the Negev desert prison, announced that he launched his hunger strike against the renewal of his administrative detention. He was seized by occupation forces on 17 January 2016 and has been subject to three consecutive administrative detention orders; his current order expires on 14 April 2017 and he is demanding that it not be renewed. He is married with three children and has spent seven years in Israeli prisons.

Alaqimah and Shalash are among over 530 Palestinians held without charge or trial under Read the rest of this entry »