In late January of this year food workers at a factory in Dandenong, Victoria, carried out a five-day occupation which led to their demands being met

In late January of this year food workers at a factory in the Melbourne suburb of Dandenong carried out a five-day occupation which led to their demands being met – a solid wage rise and the maintenance of conditions the bosses had sought to erode

by Steph Price

“I must admit, it seemed such a wild idea.” A shop steward recounts the moment when workers at her factory hit on a plan to occupy their canteen in a dispute about jobs. Mass retrenchments at the Sanyo television factory in Wodonga had been coming in waves.

“We had to try something which was completely different and catch the company off guard”, she said. They called it a “work-in”. It was a last stand.

“It’s just one of those things where you’re sitting there and suddenly you say, ‘Well, damn it. I don’t see why we should be retrenched. Just refuse to leave. We won’t accept it.’

“Straight after work in the afternoon, a group of people stayed here while the other group zipped home to get sleeping gear and organise food, because they were two problems we had to get straight.”

For 10 days in the winter of 1978, workers at the Sanyo factory worked on the production lines during the day and slept in the canteen at night. Their actions were enough to stem the job losses for a time. The factory stayed open for almost another decade.

The process itself was transformative, Read the rest of this entry »

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by Phil Duncan

Money can’t buy me love, went the old Beatles song.  Perhaps Mana and the left currents within it should’ve taken the Beatles’ point to heart.

Although the sections of the left that supported Mana and the InternetMana attempted rort of the electoral system tried to make out that Hone Harawira was the underdog in Te Tai Tokerau because Labour, National and NZ First ganged up together to make sure he lost the seat, this doesn’t quite square with the fact that he was the best-funded of any candidate in any seat in the entire 2014 general election.  Pirate capitalist Kim Dotcom and the Internet Party lavished $105,000 on him to ensure he retained the Te Tai Tokerau seat.  Kelvin Davis, the successful Labour candidate, received only $9,000 in donations.  Moroever, Harawira spent over $4,000 on radio and TV advertising, while Davis spent nothing.  Indeed, in every form of publicity, the Harawira campaign substantially outspent Davis.

Nationally, InternetMana received a war chest of $3.5 million from Dotcom, although they seem to have only spent a little over a million between their three incarnations (Internet Party, Internet Mana, Mana). Laila Harre was paid $66,000 when the InternetMana presidency was outsourced; she served about six months in the job.  A nice little earner.

InternetMana got 34,000 votes for their million dollars of election expenditure and their $3.5 million of Kim Dotcom’s money. That’s $30 a vote, or well over $100 a vote if you use the total Dotcom donation figure. The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party spent a paltry $1,169 and got 11,000 votes. That’s about 10 cents a vote! NZ First spent $268,500 – about a quarter of InternetMana’s spend-up – and got 208,000 votes, close to one vote per dollar. 

The InternetMana experiment was a Read the rest of this entry »

US-war-graph

by Danios

Below, I have reproduced a year-by-year timeline of America’s wars, which reveals something quite interesting: since the United States was founded in 1776, she has been at war during 214 out of her 235 calendar years of existence.  In other words, there were only 21 calendar years in which the US did not wage any wars.  (This was written in 2011; it would now be 218 out of the USA’s 239 years of existence – Redline.)

War-USA-400x293To put this in perspective:* Pick any year since 1776 and there is about a 91% chance that America was involved in some war during that calendar year.* No US president truly qualifies as a peacetime president.  Instead, all US presidents can technically be considered “war presidents”.* The US has never gone a decade without war.* The only time the US went five years without war (1935-1940) was during the isolationist period of the Great Depression.*  *  *

And here is the year-by-year timeline of America’s major wars:

Year-by-year Timeline of America’s Major Wars (1776-2011) Read the rest of this entry »

capitalismby Michael Roberts

Recently Noah Smith pointed out that “Modern macro-economists think that recessions and booms are random fluctuations around a trend. These fluctuations tend to die out — a deep recession leads to a fast recovery, and a big expansion tends to evaporate quickly. Eventually, the trend re-establishes itself after maybe five years. No matter what happens — whether the central bank lowers interest rates, or the government spends billions on infrastructure — the bad times will be over soon enough, and the good old steady growth trend will reappear” (See  http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-02-11/what-we-know-about-recessions-might-be-wrong).

“But what if it’s wrong?” says Smith, “What if recessions deal permanent injuries to an economy”. Smith pointed out that right-wing economists have criticised the idea that after every recession comes a boom. Greg Mankiw (see my post, https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/defending-the-indefensible/), back in 2009, reckoned that the Great Recession would herald a lost decade of output as major economies failed to get back to the trend growth rate before the crisis.

Ironically, as Smith says, liberal Keynesian economist, Paul Krugman, was among the optimists. He was wrong and Mankiw was right. Of course, Keynesians do have an answer to why economies don’t bounce back after a deep recession. I have described their arguments in various papers and posts (https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/a-keynesian-or-marxist-depression/).

Smith brings to our attention one such Keynesian answer from Roger Farmer, Professor of Economics in Los Angeles. I have referred to his work before (https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/the-keynesian-answer-support-the-speculators/). Farmer reckons that economies are driven by “animal spirits” i.e.  Read the rest of this entry »

saadatpicAhmad Sa’adat is the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. One of nearly 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners, he has been sentenced to thirty years in Israeli prisons for a range of “security-related” political offenses. These charges include membership in a prohibited organization (the PFLP, of which Sa’adat is General Secretary), holding a post in a prohibited organization, and incitement, for a speech Sa’adat made following the Israeli assassination of his predecessor, Abu Ali Mustafa, in August 2001.

Sa’adat was targeted for imprisonment because of his political activity and in his capacity as a Palestinian leader. The systematic assassination, imprisonment and detention of Palestinian political leaders has long been a policy of the Israeli state, as reflected in the imprisonment of Sa’adat and over a dozen other members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, including Marwan Barghouthi, as well as the nearly 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners, targeted for their involvement in and commitment to the struggle for the liberation of their land and people.

Born in 1953, Sa’adat is the child of refugees expelled from their home in the village of Deir Tarif, near Ramleh, in 1948. A math teacher by training, he is married to Abla Sa’adat, herself a noted activist, and is the father of four children. Abla Sa’adat was herself arrested and detained for four months, and prevented from leaving Palestine to speak about Palestinian rights at an international conference.

Ahmad Sa’adat has been involved in the Palestinian national movement since 1967, when he became active in the student movement. Prior to his abduction from Jericho in 2006, he had been held at various times as a political prisoner in Israeli jails, for a total of ten years. Sa’adat was elected General Secretary of the PFLP in 2001, following the Israeli assassination of then-General Secretary Abu Ali Mustafa in his office in Ramallah on August 27, 2001.

Sa’adat had been held in a Palestinian Authority prison for over four years, and, in January 2006, was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council on the Abu Ali Mustafa slate.  On March 14, 2006, the Israeli military stormed that prison at Jericho, abducting Sa’adat and five fellow prisoners and taking them to Israeli military prisons. For the entire period of his imprisonment in the PA jails, he has been convicted of no crime; his sentencing – in an illegitimate military court of occupation, on December 25, 2008 – came nearly seven years into his detention, after a trial that began after five years of PA/US/British, then Israeli, imprisonment.

This trial was, of course, a military trial, as are the trials of nearly all Read the rest of this entry »

In leading US ally Saudi Arabia public beheadings are state policy

Another ISIS beheading?  No, this is in leading US regional ally Saudi Arabia, where public beheadings are state policy and very common

The following is the text of a leaflet being produced by Redline blog.  As well as appearing in text form below, it will appear as a downloadable leaflet in the next day or two.  We hope that blog readers/supporters will download and distribute copies.

It’s often pointed out that  Islamic State is a barbaric organisation trying to establish medieval-type social control.  It is also, however, a repository of the dispossessed, the marginalised, the fanatical, the extreme, and, yes, the evil.  ISIS is not the main source of barbarism, brutality and evil in the region, however.

George Bush, SalmanBeside the barbarism, brutality and evil of US imperialism ISIS are rank amateurs.  And while we recoil in horror at their public beheadings this is a common form of execution by the state in Saudi Arabia, one of Washington’s chief allies in the world.  John Key may mouth outrage at ISIS beheadings, but a mere few weeks ago he asked for NZ flags to be lowered as a mark of respect following the death of the Saudi dictator, “King” Abdullah, the man who presided over public beheadings and floggings by the state throughout his reign (as does his successor now).

The Washington-led intervention is about US imperialism establishing economic organisation and control of the region.  They have been at this for many decades and there is no part of the globe not in some way economically plundered by American companies and militarily and politically pushed around by the US government.  Today, in particular, they are plundering the Middle East. They are not there to establish democracy, they are there to steal other people’s oil and other resources.

The simple fact is that since the US and its allies, including the NZ Labour government of the time, invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the problems in the region have been made worse.  ISIS did not even exist until the US and its allies wrecked Iraq.

And it isn’t just US imperialism that we should oppose.  In this country and abroad, workers face the problem of NZ Read the rest of this entry »

Marcuse addressing an assembly of radical students in 1968, "the year of revolutions"

Marcuse addressing an assembly of radical students in 1968, “the year of revolutions”

The article below is a contribution to our ongoing discussion on the current (and rather long-term) passivity of the working class in New Zealand; it is written by a former Mana Movement member.

by Leon Reilly

The New Zealand Parliament consists of several seemingly oppositional political parties, especially considering the previous binary political contest of the old First Past the Post system.  It also includes a significant number of Maori and female MPs, and even several gay MPs, a product of the progressive social liberalism of recent decades.  And yet, what is startling about this House of Representatives is how startlingly undiverse it is in terms of fundamental political principles.

Certainly, there are shades of grey here; the left-wing of the Green Party cannot be simply equated with the right-wing of National.  But they have common agreement on the fundamentals: the validity of the capitalist system and the importance of maintaining this system (no Green MP has identified themselves as a socialist); the primacy and efficiency of market forces in allocating resources (trumpeted by the Greens prior to the 2014 election); the importance of international capital in advancing New Zealand’s economic interests; and the validity of the authority of the New Zealand State and its operations (technocrats and the wider bureaucracy driving social change rather than from the grassroots engagement).  These are fundamental concepts of social organisation, on which there is essentially universal agreement by our Parliamentary representatives.

Mundane differences reflect wider social malaise

The startlingly mundane and minor differences on principle of MPs and parties are, however, a symptom of a wider social malaise.  This concerning diminution of political pluralism can be traced, at its most basic level, to a diminution in the ability and tendency of the individual to engage in critical and oppositional thought and behaviour. This psychological stupefaction precipitates a ‘closing out’ of the oppositional potential that is latent in any social system, and moving toward what Frankfurt School philosopher Herbert Marcuse called a ‘universe of one-dimensional thought and behaviour’, in which the challenge of the established authorities and values in rendered impossible.

Marcuse’s work in this area is instructive, as he made a long analysis of social repression in Read the rest of this entry »