Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

by Phil Duncan

With Winston Peters announcing that his New Zealand First party is going with Labour and not with National, it looks like the Tories are out and the Xenophobes are in. We’ll now have the two most xenophobic of the four main parties in coalition government (Labour and NZ First). Although the last Labour government was pretty racist in relation to immigration, a Labour-NZF coalition may well be the most xenophobic government since Muldoon in the late 1970s (and the pre-Muldoon Labour government which began the dawn raids on Pacific Islands immigrants).

Watch out immigrants, especially poor people who want to migrate here to make a better life for themselves!

While no-one is under any illusion about Winston Peters’ xenophobia, given that for the last several decades he has made a career out of anti-immigrant – especially anti-Asian immigrant – policies, the liberal left prefers to turn a blind eye to Labour’s anti-Asian racism.  In fact, much of the liberal or centre-left shares  (more…)

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Capitalism can turn almost anything to private profit for the rich minority.  Take the massive Greek debt and the misery of austerity imposed on the Greek masses:

by Michael Roberts

The announcement by the European Central Bank that it has so far made €7.8bn in profits from its holdings in Greek government debt reveals the true nature of the so-called bailouts of Greek government finances that the EU leaders organised in return for massive austerity measures from 2012 onwards.

Back in March 2012, five years ago, a so-called private sector involvement (PSI) deal was agreed under which French, German and Greek banks who held the bulk of Greek government bonds agreed to take a ‘haircut’ on the value of their bond holdings.  Under the PSI, they received in return new Greek government bonds with 30-year lives, paying about 3-4% a year in interest and guaranteed by the Eurozone financing operation, the EFSF.  And they also got some cash up front for turning (more…)

“The imperialists loot the world not out of sheer piggery but because they actually need the profits they extract. That ‘surplus’ is keeping their system alive, despite its deepening decay.”

The Imperialism Study group hosted by Redline is focused on Lenin’s Imperialism, John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st century and Tony Norfield’s The City.  Perhaps inevitably, however, we have also discussed other theorists, most particularly David Harvey (who is, to put it kindly, highly confused about imperialism) and Paul Baran & Paul Sweezy, whose work on imperialism was influential in sections of the 1960s New Left, especially in the United States.  The piece below is a follow-up to comments made earlier by veteran US Marxist Walter Daum on Baran-Sweezy (see here).  Keep in mind that these are comment pieces which are part of a study group discussion; they don’t purport to be exhaustive articles on the subject.

by Walter Daum   (October 12, 2017)

With regard to the discussion of Baran and Sweezy in the study group, there is no question that they deserve attention by Marxists, especially given the widespread influence of the Monthly Review school. They also deserve recognition for emphasizing the importance of imperialism in sustaining capitalism for the past century or more – in contrast to David Harvey, the International Socialist Tendency and others who downplay its importance and distort its role. But I also think that Baran & Sweezy’s theoretical and political influence has been harmful.

First, on their political influence. I came into the radical and socialist left in the late 1960s, when Baran & Sweezy’s book Monopoly Capital was all the rage in the US New Left. Those of us trying to grasp Marxism and to apply it to the explosive world we were facing – above all the Black struggle in the US and the imperialist assaults on Cuba, Vietnam, etc. – were up against slews of young Baran-Sweezy fans who learned from their bible that a) the law of value, and therefore Marxist political economy overall, was useless for understanding the imperialist world; and b) that the working class in the imperialist countries was useless for challenging capitalism. The main alternative analysis was the book Marx and Keynes by Paul Mattick. But that was terribly difficult to read and never became popular.

B&S’s rejection of the First World working class soon came into conflict with the world-wide and world-shaking mass struggles of 1968, as the post-war boom drew to an end. French workers seized factories and almost overthrew Charles de Gaulle’s government. The international upsurge also included powerful movements in China, Mexico and Italy, and even in the U.S. with the proletarian-based ghetto uprisings. This was a refutation of theory by reality. But damage had been done.

Baran-Sweezy are not responsible for all the turns their followers took, but their outlook helped (more…)


In the early 2000s, in response to capitalist austerity, especially workplace closures, a wave of factory takeovers by their workers occured in Argentina.  Factory occupations in that country have continued and provide useful and practical examples how to fight redundancies and closures.  In the article below, Sonja Krieger, of US-based Left Voice, writes about a factory she visited as part of a Left Voice delegation to Argentina.

by Sonja Krieger

Many are familiar with the story of Zanon, the ceramic tile factory in Neuquén Province in Southern Argentina that was taken over by the workers in 2001/2002. The reason why Zanon – now FaSinPat, Fábrica Sin Patrones (Factory Without Bosses) – has become well-known all over the world is because of the 2004 documentary The Take by Naomi Klein, a film about the “recovery” of closed or abandoned factories in Argentina in the context of the 2001 economic crisis and its aftermath. The film is about the fábricas recuperadas (recuperated factories) movement in Argentina and shows the struggles of workers to save their workplaces by occupying them and continuing production under workers’ control. Many of these cooperatives continue to run and to be self-managed by the people who work in them, and they represent a significant social phenomenon that proves that the working class can not only effectively respond to the attacks and the failures of capital, it can also organize work collectively, democratically, and without bosses and managers.

The Take tells the story of the workers’ struggles at Zanon, as well as those at the Forja auto parts factory outside of Buenos Aires and the textile factory Brukman in the city, but there are many more workplaces that have been under worker self-management for as much as a decade and longer. There are also hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that are run as cooperatives, including in areas like media and education, construction and transportation, and even health care and trash collection.

Madygraf takeover

A more recent example of the Argentinian workers’ fight to “reclaim” their workplaces is the print shop Madygraf, which our delegation had a chance to visit on its three-year anniversary in August. The experience of listening to the workers there talk about how they fought for better working conditions, for their jobs, and ultimately for their plant was a powerful one.

Now in its fourth year as a cooperative, the (more…)

Theo Spierings: salary of $160,000 per week; $32,000 per ‘working’ day

by Don Franks

Not everyone admires the bloke but I believe Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings is due some appreciation.

If we have eyes to see it, Theo’s done us a favour.

This kiwi dairy worker has jumped into the headlines, not for what he’s done or not done at the office but on account of the size of his pay packet. A total of $8.32 million in 2017, a 78.5 per cent increase  from last year.

Theo Spierings’ earnings are made up of a $2.46m base salary, superannuation benefits of $170,036, a short-term incentive payment of $1.832m and a long-term incentive payment of $3.855m, the co-operative’s latest annual report shows.

Twenty-three other Fonterra executives received up to $1m for their efforts, five of those have recently left the firm, possibly feeling a bit deprived at their loss of relativity.

So what favour has Theo Spierings done us New Zealanders who can’t afford as much cream and butter as we’d like to put on the table?

The Fonterra boss stands as a reminder of several important truths. A reminder that  (more…)

Bosses, not robots, lay off workers

The article below is taken from the French revolutionary workers’ journal Lutte de Classe (Class Struggle).  It was translated by members of the US revolutionary group The Spark.

French Socialist Party presidential candidate Benoît Hamon justified his proposal for a universal guaranteed income by citing the “inevitable disappearance of work.” Referencing the growing role of digital technology and robots, which he believes are going to cause the destruction “of hundreds of thousands of jobs in Western economies,” he also proposed to create a tax on robots. The deputies of the European Parliament, for their part, debated last January about the need to require businesses to “publish the extent and the share of the contributions of robotics… to their financial outcomes, for the purposes of taxation and determining the amount of their social security contributions” (Les Échos, January 13, 2017).

The idea that human labor will be replaced by machines and robots, and that we are heading toward the inevitable end of work, has recently come into fashion. Does this reflect reality or the ranting of pseudo-experts, good news for humanity or the chronicle of a catastrophe foretold? All of the discussions around this question make no sense if the heart of the matter is not taken into consideration: all of the means of production, which are set in motion in a social and collective manner through a vast international division of labor, remain the private property of a tiny minority of capitalists.

In order to justify their propositions, Hamon and the European deputies rely on a range of studies, such as one made by the think tank France Stratégie, according to which 3.4 million jobs in France are in danger of disappearing over the next ten years. In 2013, two researchers at the University of Oxford, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, maintained that 47% of U.S. jobs are at “high risk,” meaning that they “could be automated relatively soon, perhaps over the next decade or two.” They base their arguments on the progress that has apparently been achieved in the fields of robotics and machine learning, which would allow machines to carry out (more…)

Masoud Barzani

by Yassamine Mather

The Kurdish regional government (KRG) in Iraq will be holding a referendum on the issue of independence on September 25. There have been appeals for it to be delayed and the date has changed a number of times, but at the moment it looks like the vote will go ahead.

In 2014, at the time when Islamic State was gaining ground in northern Kurdistan, Kurds accused the Iraqi army of abandoning the territory lost to the jihadists. Ironically it is the ‘liberation’ of Erbil, Mosul and other northern cities that has precipitated the referendum. Last week in an interview with BBC Persian, Masoud Barzani, the president of the KRG, indicated that it will draw up the borders of a future Kurdish state if Baghdad does not accept a vote in favour of independence. However, what was significant in the BBC interview was Barzani’s insistence that (more…)