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 »

Sending NZ troops to Iraq "not an easy decision", but Key is still OK about bathing in blood of the peoples of the Middle East

Sending NZ troops to Iraq “not an easy decision”, but Key is still OK about bathing in the blood of the peoples of the Middle East

by Don Franks

The war pigs’ war drums beat again and, having heard them several times before and not liking their ugly sound, even from a relatively safe distance, I wish there was an easy solution.

It would be really nice to believe there was an accessible political alternative.  An alternative you only had to vote for.

Even if you had to wait a while, just so long as you confidently knew that in time your boat would surely come into harbour and everything would come right.

If you could, say, have faith in Labour as a real political alternative to imperialist war.

Labour leader Andrew Little told Breakfast TV he saw no point in sending a small contingent, possibly up to 100 troops, to contribute because Iraq needed more than just military assistance.

“What is equally important is stuff that is going to help Iraq as a nation and state to get on its own two feet,” he said. “I don’t know why it is that we’re just going down the track of military assistance and not the civilian reconstruction assistance, which is equally important.”

The word here is Read the rest of this entry »

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Internationalism and open borders are not simply nice ideas, but vital things to fight for in order to advance the interests of workers as a class.  The bosses unite across borders to exploit us more effectively; we need to unite across borders to defend our interests more effectively.  The bosses also try to put workers against each other, based on nationality and country of origin, we need to avoid falling into the trap they try to set for us.  Moreover, workers’ migration tends to lead to the sharing of experience which is in our interests – whether it’s food that’s new or different to us or whether it’s the fighting experience migrant workers often have and can usefully share with us.

Workers rights and open borders: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/workers-rights-and-open-borders/

The case for global freedom of movement: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/7865/

New Zealand’s immigration controls: not in workers’ interests: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/new-zealand%E2%80%99s-immigration-controls-%E2%80%93-not-in-workers%E2%80%99-interests-%C2%A0/

Capitalism, Third World poverty and migration: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/capitalism-third-world-poverty-and-migration/

Another word on “foreigners”, xenophobia and racism: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/another-word-on-foreigners-xenophobia-and-racism/ 

Depriving Samoans of immigration and citizenship rights: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/depriving-samoans-of-immigration-and-citizenship-rights/

On the White New Zealand policy: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/pieces-on-the-white-new-zealand-policy/