Masoud Barzani

by Yassamine Mather

The Kurdish regional government (KRG) in Iraq will be holding a referendum on the issue of independence on September 25. There have been appeals for it to be delayed and the date has changed a number of times, but at the moment it looks like the vote will go ahead.

In 2014, at the time when Islamic State was gaining ground in northern Kurdistan, Kurds accused the Iraqi army of abandoning the territory lost to the jihadists. Ironically it is the ‘liberation’ of Erbil, Mosul and other northern cities that has precipitated the referendum. Last week in an interview with BBC Persian, Masoud Barzani, the president of the KRG, indicated that it will draw up the borders of a future Kurdish state if Baghdad does not accept a vote in favour of independence. However, what was significant in the BBC interview was Barzani’s insistence that Read the rest of this entry »

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Ardern and English: two faces of what is really one party

by Phil Duncan

Two events yesterday provided a micrcosm of the problem with the NatLabs, and yet more evidence of why workers and progressive people generally shouldn’t support either wing of this party.

One of the most obnoxious events in politics, and in elections in particular, is when capitalist politicians – people dedicated to managing the system that exploits workers- show up at workplaces.  They put on hi-viz jackets or hard hats or hair nets or whatever and walk around making absurd chit-chat with workers and posing for photo opportunities.  The more obsequious workers agree to be part of the photo opp and the most obsequious even take selfies and stick them on their facebook pages.

But, thanks to the courage of Robin Lane and several other workers, Bill English found one of these workplace walkabouts highly embarrasing.  Shortly after inspecting a tray of lemons at Kaiaponi Farms (near Gisborne), English looked like he was sucking on a Read the rest of this entry »

Camilo Mones

Camilo Mones worked and organized for decades at the PepsiCo plant in Buenos Aires until this past June, when the corporation abruptly closed it and about 700 workers were fired. Today, he continues to fight alongside other dismissed workers for the factory’s reopening.

In the following, Camilo describes their struggle, the crisis of the CGT (General Confederation of Labour), politics and opposition within the national unions, and the need to fight for a class-struggle perspective within the labour movement.  

The interview was conducted by Left Voice and translated by Nicolas Daneri. 

Left Voice: The media is saying that, apart from the CGT, the PepsiCo workers were one of the main participants in the rally on August 22.

Camilo Mones: We managed to gather a broad range of organizations under the PepsiCo banner that represented the fight against the layoffs, the demand for the appearance of Santiago Maldonado (a political “desaparecido” during a repression against indigenous Mapuches in the south of the country) and the motto, “For a general strike.” There were people from other food factories, the tyre factories workers’ union, the Buenos Aires province teachers’ union, delegates and shop stewards from the subway, railroad workers, airport, left-wing parties, and a delegation of workers from MadyGraf–a printing company under workers’ control.

Although the bureaucracy did not want us to go to the rally, we decided to go in full force. There, we planted our banners with the demand for a general strike, which we chanted throughout the speech. This and our early morning demonstration that blocked 9 de Julio Avenida (one of the most important avenues in Buenos Aires City) led the media to highlight our participation.

LV: Did the CGT’s call to action and their speeches at the rally seem a bit soft?

CM: Completely. The rally–among the smallest in recent years–revealed the crisis within the federation and its leadership. Most of the unions did not take part and some of them only sent small delegations. This crisis is partly a result of 19 months of inaction, when unions had no policy to oppose the austerity measures of Read the rest of this entry »

by Don Franks

I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’ve had enough of all the talk about child poverty.  Some of the talk is well-intentioned, but much of it’s actually bullshit

Phrases roll off the tongue but what does poverty mean in New Zealand today?

The Ministry of Social Development works from the level of income set at  60% of median household disposable income after housing costs. This is deemed a reasonable level to protect people from the worst effects of poverty.

Source: Stats NZ 2016

In these terms it’s calculated that the poverty line after deducting housing costs for a household with two adults and two children lies at $600 per week or $31,200 annually in 2016 dollars. For a sole parent with one child it is $385 per week or $20,200 annually in 2016 dollars. Inadequate amounts of money for a decent life and, by such reckoning, there are around 682,50 people in poverty in this country, or one in seven households.

New Zealand is a far more unequal country than it was a generation back. Over the past three decades, under both National- and Labour-led governments, New Zealand has gone from being one of the most equal to one of the most unequal nations in the wealthy OECD countries.  In those 30 years, incomes for the average of the top 10% income earners roughly doubled while lower and middle incomes barely increased. Let’s compare two reports, almost a decade apart.

The 2007 Statistics Department study Wealth and disparities in New Zealand revealed that the top 10% of wealthy New Zealand individuals owned over half of New Zealand’s total net worth, and nearly one fifth of total net worth was owned by the top one percent of wealthy individuals. At the halfway mark, the bottom half of the population collectively owned a mere 5 percent of total net worth.

The most recent available information is a 2016 Statistics Department study Household Net Worth Statistics: Year ended June 2015 (published 2016).  It reveals that the Read the rest of this entry »

From 2010 to 2015 Liberal Party MP Sir John Vincent Cable was the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in Britain.  The following is part of a retweet of Cable yesterday by author J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame.  Cable said:

In other words, even in terms of the operations of capitalism, scares about immigration depressing wages and limiting employment don’t hold up.

 

by Walter Daum

Thanks to John Smith and Michael Yates for calling attention to David Harvey’s latest twists on the actuality of imperialism  (see here). John’s critique of Harvey’s assessment of imperialism today is devastating. I want to take up a related point.

Harvey’s work is often rich in detail and connections, but his intricate tapestry conceals the main threads of imperialism today. John notes that similar failures are common among Marxist theorists in the imperialist countries, many of whom insist that the most highly exploited workers are in the North. As to Harvey’s particular claim about the reversal of flows, one guess might be that he is impressed by the wealth being amassed especially in China. If so, what he overlooks is that China’s capitalists got rich by super-exploiting their own proletariat (sharing the profits with imperialist-country capitalists), not the workers of the West or North. Little of the Chinese ruling class’s wealth comes from any reverse transfer of surplus-value.

Harvey notes that the rise of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan etc, and then the growth of China among the still-poorer countries, “has altered Read the rest of this entry »

Below is a further contribution to the Imperialism Study Group.  It looks at the book Rosa Remix and Rosa Luxemburg’s analysis of imperialism.  Tomorrow we’ll be putting up a second piece by Walter, commenting critically on David Harvey’s view of imperialism, following on from John Smith’s examination of Harvey’s work on the subject here.

by Walter Daum (September  2017)

Rosa Remix is a book of essays on Rosa Luxemburg published in 2016 by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (Foundation), an educational arm of the German Left Party (Die Linke) which set up a branch office in New York a few years ago. It is ironic – galling, actually – that this foundation, which takes thoroughly reformist positions, names itself after Luxemburg, a forthright revolutionary one of whose best-known works, Reform or Revolution, excoriates reformism as incompatible with socialism.

Rosa Remix is downloadable at http://www.rosalux-nyc.org/rosa-remix-3/. The book was published “with support from the German Federal Foreign Office” and has been promoted and distributed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

The book’s articles by various authors purport to apply her work to today’s world, almost a century after her murder at the hands of Social-Democratic authorities in 1919. I mainly want to deal with what writers make of her analysis of imperialism. But first, an indication of the inappropriateness of the publisher is the reference by the editors to one article, which “discusses how Rosa’s theories of small reforms and class collaboration can make us better understand the types of alliances we need to seek.” Really? Rosa Luxemburg had theories – more than one yet! – of class collaboration??!

The article referred to is by Bhaskar Sunkara, the editor of Jacobin magazine in the U.S., who indeed is a reformist and practices class collaboration – he supported, for example, the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, the quasi-social-democrat and apologist for American imperialism. But Sankara did not go so far as to attribute such views to Luxemburg. He correctly points out, in regard to alliances (he is dealing specifically with climate justice), that “Lenin and Luxemburg would remind us that this has to be movements spearheaded by workers, in alliance with much broader layers, but fundamentally reflecting their interests.” And he adds: “We can look to Luxemburg and say no to ‘class collaborationism’.” So much for the editors’ version of “Rosa’s theories.”

On imperialism, three contributors take up Luxemburg’s main work on the subject, The Accumulation of Capital, on the Read the rest of this entry »