Gareth from the Otago Socialist Society is presenting and hosting a discussion on Wage Labour and Capital next Monday (April 30)

Written in 1847 by Karl Marx and published towards the end of the wave of European revolutions that began in 1848, Wage Labour and Capital is a short, accessible pamphlet that introduces the substance of Marx’s critique of political economy and capitalism.

While it was written a cebtury and a half ago, the principles of Marx’s thought presented in the text are very much applicable today.

5.30pm, Monday, April 30
Seminar room
Third floor
Dunedin Public Library

All welcome.

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by Yassamine Mather

Irrespective of what the experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons say, there is no doubt that the Syrian dictator is capable of using weapons of mass destruction against his own population and it is possible that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack in Douma.

However, the point remains that the tripartite alliance of the US, UK and France has failed to prove that the Syrian government was responsible for this terrible act before launching a military attack. In addition, after all the fake documents produced prior to the Iraq war, can anyone trust the advice of international ‘experts’? There is a level of justified scepticism amongst ordinary people about British government claims of being certain who was behind the ‘chemical attack’ used to justify the military operations of April 14.

Chemical weapons

In the current situation, when Assad is clearly winning the eight-year civil war, why would he use chemical weapons on a small group of fundamentalist Islamists, Jaysh al-Islam (an offshoot of Al Qa’eda)? After all, his government, aided by Russia and Iran, has managed to defeat the other offshoots operating in Syria and, what is more, in Douma a deal had been reached that paved the way for the departure of the insurgents.

As late as April 12, US defence secretary James Mattis was telling reporters that the United States and its allies were “still assessing” reports of a chemical weapons attack on April 7 – days after his boss, Donald Trump, and British prime minister Theresa May had declared they knew what had happened and firmly blamed Assad.

Unlike Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and elements in the Stop the War Coalition, I have no illusions in the United Nations and the sanctity of ‘international law’. However, it is interesting to read the case made by US law professors Jack Goldsmith and Oona Hathaway against Read the rest of this entry »

Following a break after the substantial discussions on Imperialism in the 21st Century, the Imperialism Study/Discussion Group is moving on to Tony Norfield’s work on  the global financial system.  These discussions are being led by Tony, who recommends the following:

  1. Short article: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/britains-financial-machinery.html

  2. Short article: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/what-is-marxs-value-theory-worth.html

  3. Short article:  https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/capitalism-imperialism-profit-and.html

  4. Notes for a talk: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/value-theory-finance-and-imperialism.html

  5. Video/audio of lecture: https://soas.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=76d81ed6-e831-44e1-bd14-931b381df70e

For this last item, the presentation, together with a Q&A session, takes a little over one hour, and it is possible to scroll through the presentation file used. (The only amendment I would make is that early on in my talk I wrongly said that Carlsberg was a Netherlands company, when it is Danish, and I should also have noted that Anheuser-Busch InBev/SAB Miller also had a US connection. I had other things on my mind at the time!)

The Imperialism Study/Discussion Group initiated by Redline is now moving on to Tony Norfield’s work on the global financial system.

At the same time, people involved in the study/discussion continue to chat about imperialism in the 21st century and, in particular, about the critique John Smith has made of David Harvey in relation to imperialism today.

Below is a note from John about the continuing debate with Harvey and his supporters on the subject and a follow-up note from Walter Daum, another participant in the study/discussion group.

From John:

‘Exploitation and super-exploitation’ — https://mronline.org/2018/04/14/exploitation-and-super-exploitation/ — is a small (literally, just 1400 words) further step towards what Ilyenkov would call a ‘universal concrete concept’ of contemporary imperialist capitalism, a mammoth task involving many volumes and people and debate; the quest for which has all along guided work on my thesis and then the book.

The article arose from a request on short notice for a short piece on the topic of ‘exploitation in the global economy’ from the Crisis and World Economy working group of CLACSO, a pan-Latin American academic social science network. The Spanish version is available from https://www.clacso.org.ar/grupos_trabajo/archivos/57_bole.pdf.

Help with their dissemination is much appreciated.

It has set in motion a little project: to Read the rest of this entry »

anzacby Don Franks

At the end of our street, there’s a little stone memorial. It was raised in 1920, for local working people whose lives were cut short or ruined by the Great War. The young men from Holloway Road and surrounding streets came from tiny dwellings of two rooms and a scullery. Many of them, no doubt excited at the prospect of overseas adventure, which would have hardly been their lot in peace time.

Wellington City Council’s official description of the monument reads:
“The Mitchelltown War Memorial has artistic value. A four-sided obelisk upon a concrete base with marble plaque, a feature of notable interest is the lemon squeezer hat that decorates all four sides of the memorial. The lemon squeezer hat is a symbol closely affiliated with New Zealand. It was rare for New Zealand World War 1 memorials to feature New Zealand iconography, so in this regard the Mitchelltown memorial is slightly unusual.” 

Read the rest of this entry »

by Don Franks 

Last year, US ambassador Scott Brown clashed with our then prime minister Bill English, who’d described Trump’s threat to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea as “not helpful”.

In a TVNZ interview on October 15th , Scott Brown complained: With respect to the prime minister, who I do have a lot of respect for, people either love the president’s tweets or they hate the president’s tweets. But this is how the president communicates and reaches his base, and it’s effective for him… I would refer your viewers to a recent Washington Post article that came out on October 11th saying that the president’s policy, after years of basically languishing, are actually working”. Scott Brown went on at some length to make it clear that in future he expected more compliance from New Zealand politicians.

Since the governing Labour/NZ First coalition has been going, the US ambassador has not needed to caution our government on matters of foreign policy. It would seem the lesson has been taken. 

Soon after becoming prime minister, Ardern made it clear that her government would be prepared to support an attack on North Korea. Her statement was hedged around with talk of negotiations and UN resolutions but it was unambiguous. Military support was a last resort, but a resort no less. And there was no comment from her about Trumps’s continuing bellicose rhetoric being “unhelpful”.

On April 14th this year Jacinda Ardern declared that New Zealand “accepted” the US-British-French missile strikes on Syria. Ardern told reporters that her government had been informed about the attack hours in advance.

Asked by reporters if she would send troops to Syria, Ardern did not rule it out, responding: “That’s a hypothetical. We haven’t been asked.” 

ardernmerkel

Ardern firmed up her pro-war response after meeting with Merkel

She said she would discuss the war with French, German and British leaders during an upcoming visit to Europe. When later conferring with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ardern firmed up her pro-war response, now saying she “utterly accepted” the need for attacks on Syria. Read the rest of this entry »