by Daphna Whitmore

On the eve of Waitangi Day thousands of people marched in protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Many Maori took part believing the TPPA will undermine indigenous rights. That protest was expected to spill over into Waitangi Day events, but with John Key staying away from Waitangi the annual February 6 protests have been muted. That left Steven Joyce to take one for the team and cop a flying sex toy.waitangi2016

Despite Maori economic assests worth over $40billion, Treaty settlements have not ended Maori deprivation and poverty. Read the rest of this entry »

The announcement by Labour that, if elected, it would be making tertiary education partially free from 2019 has been described by some as a bold, radical move. The scheme would be phased in, eventually giving new students three years of free tertiary education.

Wellington New Zealand, 2006

Right-leaning blogger David Farrar called it a lurch to the left. However, some on the left are underwhelmed. John Minto pointed out today’s seven year olds would be the first to get the full three years, as Labour is going to phase it in at a glacial pace. He noted, “Labour would need to win three elections in a row before the policy came in to force.”

Factoring that in, aspirational might be the best way to describe the policy.

National’s Tertiary Education Minister, Steven Joyce, argues Labour’s policy would be unfair as taxpayers are already paying two-thirds of the cost of tertiary education and “people who go to university go on to get good incomes and get that for their whole lives.”

Equity is the latest buzz word in government circles and National are all for it, as long as it doesn’t involve touching corporate profits.  Still, Joyce is right: the middle class will benefit the most from Labour’s policy. That should not come as a surprise as this is the class Labour has been orientated to for many decades.

What you won’t see in Labour’s policy is a recognition that tertiary education in capitalist society rests on the surplus created by the working class. Workers as a class create far more wealth than is returned to them in wages. Under capitalism few workers earn even a living wage. So is maintaining the part-user-pays system more equitable as Joyce argues? Not really. The article below written by Philip Ferguson in 2011 looks at a more radical option, one where students link up with workers and recognize they owe them for their education.

Can students be radical?

by Philip Ferguson

For many people, especially on the left, the answer to this question is an unqualified “yes”. They might agree there is not much happening on the campuses in New Zealand right now, but point to big protests and even occupations over the past decade over issues like fee rises.

However, if we think more deeply about the question, the unqualified “yes” tells us more about the studentist politics of much of the left than it answers the question.

To be radical means to go to the root, to deal with the core problems of the existing society and work out a strategy to solve those problems by doing away with the system that causes them.

When looked at in this light, how do student protests over purely student issues challenge the existing order? Indeed, how do they even shed light on how university education is possible in the first place and the connection between the existence of university education and the exploitation of the working class? Read the rest of this entry »

by Michael Roberts

There was a batch of economic data out January 30 that confirmed that the global economic expansion since the end of the Great Recession in mid-2009 was in trouble.  The ‘recovery’ since then has already been the weakest since the 1930s.

US GDPNow data for the last quarter of 2015 from major capitalist economies showed that economic growth, as measured by real GDP growth, was slowing.  In preliminary figures for the US economy, the most important and fastest growing of the major economies, in Q4 2015, real GDP rose only at a 0.7% annual rate, sharply down from the 2% pace recorded from Q3 2015.  That meant the US economy had expanded in real terms (after inflation is deducted) by 2.4% in 2015, the same rate as in 2014.  But the worrying sign was that in Q4 2015, the yoy rate was only 1.8%, virtually the same rate as the UK economy achieved in that last quarter.

And the prospects for 2016 are probably Read the rest of this entry »

January 30 marks the 68th anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.  While widely held up as the key figure responsible for the independence of India and a pacifist icon, the story of Gandhi and Indian independence is much more complex.  Whether his pacifism really worked is highly debatable.

See our two critical appraisals here:

Creepy old Gandhi: demystifying the Mahatma

How successful was/is Gandhian peaceful civil disobedience? 

 

Below are two parts of an interview conducted with John McCusker, a leading figure in the Irish socialist-republican movement, éirígí.  The interview was conducted in Belfast by Alan Meban, who was a very fair interviewer although he doesn’t agree with the politics of éirígí.

While the interview is now nearly five years old, we think it is still informative about the politics of the encouraging developments represented by éirígí.  Since this interview, the organisation has gone on to play leading roles in campaigns against the household tax and the water tax, as well as the rip-off of natural resources by Shell on the west coast of Ireland.

In the first part of the interview, John talks about what éirígí stands for and what differentiates it from, on the one hand, other republican currents, and, on the other hand, the groups that describe themselves as only socialist:

 

In the second part, John talks about militarism and policing:

 

For the éirígí document From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come, see here.

For the text of an excellent interview a Basque journal, Ekaitza, did with éirígí general-secretary Brendan Mac Cionnaith, see Ireland: the class struggle is the source of the national struggle.

For our own interview with éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson, see Building an Alternative Movement in Ireland.

For an example of agitational speeches by leaders of éirígí at protests in Ireland, below is one of the party’s most well-known figures, Louise Minihan, speaking at a mass protest outside 2012’s Fine Gael national conference – the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government has been imposing extreme austerity measures on the working class.   Louise’s speech is very relevant to NZ today.  It’s particularly interesting to see the enthusiastic response Louise gets from this gathering of thousands of workers for her call for the removal of the existing top union leadership and for a labour movement on the class-struggle principles of James Connolly:

And here is an éirígí protest in Belfast against state attempts to normalise the British army presence in the six counties, a presence which is totally ignored by ‘socialist’ groups who find it more to their liking to take up much safer issues.

One way that you can help support éirígí is by buying posters, calendars, books, key rings, engravings etc from their on-line shop.  See here.

Several members of the Redline blog collective are also members of Clann éirígí and involved in events here in New Zealand around the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rebellion in Ireland.  See here.

 

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Walter Nash, Labour’s immigration minister, helped keep doors largely barred to Jewish refugees from Nazis

by Phil Duncan

While the Labour Party showed its knee-jerk racism in relation to the Chinese yet again last year – a modern-day equivalent to the early party’s keen support for the White New Zealand policy – few people are aware of the first Labour government’s shoddy record in relation to refugees, particularly Jewish refugees, from Nazism in Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  Below is essentially a summary of chapter 13 of Oliver Sutherland’s Paikea, a book about his father (I.L.G. Sutherland), which throws an interesting light on this.

Michael Joseph Savage: first Labour prime minister wanted white British immigrants, not Jewish refugees from the Nazis

Michael Joseph Savage: first Labour prime minister wanted white British immigrants, not Jewish refugees from the Nazis

I only became aware of this hidden part of Labour Party history when, by chance, I saw Paikea in a display in a public library.  I knew of Oliver as a prominent figure in the Auckland Committee on Racial Discrimination (ACORD) way back in the 1970s, so I picked up the book and had a look at it.  I was interested to see that Ivan Sutherland had been very involved in campaigning for European refugees in the late 1930s and into the 1940s and had been up against it as the first Labour government wasn’t keen on Read the rest of this entry »

by Don Franks

camdenEarlier this month I took a trip to the States, to visit a musician friend from Oakland.

When she drove me round her home neighbourhood, Amirh pointed out numerous houses that had unwillingly been vacated in recent years. Live examples of a burning issue for locals  – gentrification.

To long-term Oakland residents, “gentrification” means displacement of the former working class residents, by means of rent rises and aggressive house buy-ups.

Between 2000 and 2013 Oakland lost almost a quarter of its African-American population. The white population increased by a similar amount, while rents went through the roof. The number of tenants paying over 50% of their income in rent increased by 39%. People forced out of Oakland by economic attack had to exchange their familiar communities for inferior areas. Areas lacking ammenities like social services and public transport.

Next day I walked downtown, a street a vendor offered me a copy of Read the rest of this entry »