Above is the speech given by Brian Leeson to the November 28 annual conference of the Irish revolutionary socialist movement éirígí.
While conditions in Ireland are rather different from New Zealand – Ireland was partitioned by British imperialism, with a direct colonial set-up in the north and a neo-colonial set-up in the south, whereas NZ is an imperialist power in its own right – there are important similarities due to capitalism ruling the island.
Moreover, in the south, the Labour Party has been leading a massive attack on workers’ rights and living standards while in the north Sinn Fein functions as part of the status quo, going along with and implementing austerity imposed from London.
But whereas New Zealand has a largely passive working class, Ireland’s history of rebellion created a far less obedient working class. Active opposition to austerity is thus far more pronounced there than here, especially in the recent cases of the massive resistance to the household tax – which was only ended when the southern state began deducting the tax automatically from people’s wages and salaries – and the water tax. Opposition to the water tax continues. eirigi has been in the forefront of physical opposition to the installation of meters, civil disobedience and mass protests.
The working class in New Zealand has much to learn from the inspirational struggles, past and present, of the working class in Ireland.