Archive for the ‘Nation state’ Category

Constance de Markievicz, in Irish Citizen Army uniform

by Philip Ferguson

Today (Feb 4) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the first woman elected to the British parliament! This was in the general election of December 1918, at the end of WW1. And no, she was not a Tory reactionary, but an Irish revolutionary – Constance Markievicz.

She was in jail at the time in London.

She had been second-in-command lof the insurrectionary forces at Stephen’s Green during the 1916 Rebellion in Dublin and, among other things, performed valuable sniper duties; after the surrender she was tried by court-martial and sentenced to death, commuted to penal servitidue for life on account of her being a woman.

The British were subsequently forced to release the prisoners, from the end of 1916 to mid-1917. Considered one of the hardest of the hard-core, she was in the very last group of prisoners to be released, returning to an ecstatic welcome in Dublin.

In May 1918 she was arrested for sedition and again imprisoned in England. It was here that she ran for parliament.

She stood on a platform of independence and radical social change in Ireland and not taking her seat at Westminster if elected.

In that election, 73 seats were won by people who said they wouldn’t take their seat at Westminster if elected.  A majority of them were in prison or ‘on the run’.

(These people won a majority of the seats in (more…)


Even in the US there is greater awareness of the importance of opposing immigration controls

by Phil Duncan

In New Zealand, working class struggle remains – as it has been for a couple of decades now – at an historic low.  In fact, abject surrender to exploitation and acceptance of the contempt of the employers and their political representatives in National and Labour seems to be thoroughly normal now.  Occasionally a group of workers will struggle, but these workers are a tiny minority and their struggles are limited to immediate conditions and take place entirely within narrowly-prescribed industrial law.

The share of wealth going to workers, meanwhile, continues to decline.  For instance, official figures show that business operating profits have grown from $NZ47 billion in 2009 to just over $NZ65 billion in the latest financial year, an increase of about 38 percent.  But the median-average hourly wage grew by less than 20 percent.   Large numbers of workers simply haven’t received wage rises in the past couple of years.

Mourning sickness

Even when faced with workplace closures, and a possible future of unemployment, the tendency of the employees generally is to look (more…)

From 21-23 October 1997, at the invitation of the Communist Party of Cuba, the Revolutionary Communist Group attended a conference in Havana to pay homage to Che Guevara: Socialism in the 21st Century. More than 200 delegates from 97 organisations participated in three commissions: ‘The reality of contemporary socialism’, ‘The validity of Marxist-Leninist thought’ and ‘Imperialism at the end of the century’.  Below is the RCG’s paper on ‘Lenin’s Imperialism and the split in the working class – its relevance for rebuilding the socialist movement in imperialist countries today’ in the commission on Marxist-Leninist thought. It was presented by David Yaffe.

Capitalism is failing the vast majority of humanity. 1.3bn of the world’s population live in absolute poverty. Inequalities are rapidly widening between rich and poor nations and within all nations whether rich or poor. Britain has registered the greatest inequalities in wage levels since statistics began in 1886. Yet in imperialist countries like Britain, no political parties have so far arisen to represent the interests of the growing numbers of poor working class people. There are few signs, as yet, of the revival of the socialist movement.How can this be explained and what possibilities exist for changing this? How can socialism be revived in imperialist countries like Britain? What forms of organisation can meet this challenge? Are existing labour organisations adequate for this purpose? What attitude should communists take towards them? In this contribution we will advance a number of propositions which can serve as a basis for discussing these issues.

1. The division of the world into imperialist and non-imperialist states

Lenin’s standpoint on imperialism and the split in socialism is as relevant today, in all its essential aspects, as in his own day. The world is divided up into (more…)

Labour’s racist roots

A stain that won’t wash off: Labour’s racist campaign against people with ‘Chinese-sounding’ surnames

More Labour anti-Chinese racism and the left tags along behind them still


by Don Franks

“I would like to pay tribute to Prince Philip following his decision to retire from public service. He has dedicated his life to supporting the Queen and our country with a clear sense of public duty. His Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme has inspired young people for more than 60 years in over 140 nations. We thank Prince Philip for his service to the country and wish him all the best in his well-earned retirement.”

Not, I think, how most Redline followers would sign off the “working” life of the racist old parasite.

Still, British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s entitled to his opinion. All he has to do now is wear the consequences of his press statement. Already, right wing commentators are saying Corbyn’s words should be taken with a grain of salt. Its not what the guy really thinks. And I reckon its a very safe bet die hard Labour supporters, for different reasons, will be saying exactly the same. That, or Labour supporters will argue that it doesn’t really matter, alongside health care and education issues, matters of the royal family are unimportant.

I believe the contrary; it’s probably close to (more…)

by Jim Creegan

It is now increasingly apparent that the abrupt reversals of the Trump White House, emerging from behind a curtain of court intrigue, signal a major political shift. The white nationalist platform upon which the parvenu real estate mogul was elected in November seems in the process of being scrapped, plank by plank, in favour of a far more conventional rightwing Republican agenda, at home and abroad.

Far too often, Marxist political writing suffers from a conceptual gap. On the one hand, the bourgeois state is said – as a general theoretical proposition – to be an instrument of capitalist class rule. On the other hand, short to medium-term political events are analysed exclusively in terms of the pronouncements and deeds of political actors, momentary combinations, electoral moods etc., without regard to the interface between politics and class. No attempt is made uncover the particular pressures and influences through which the interests of the bourgeoisie are brought to bear.

In cases where politics flow through accustomed channels, the challenge is not daunting. Political parties and institutions are headed by individuals who either come from the ruling class themselves, or who are thoroughly venal and have undergone certain vetting procedures for class loyalty. The task of explanation becomes more difficult, however, when extraordinary convulsions – coups or insurrections in authoritarian regimes, or electoral upsets in democracies – put power in the hands of individuals and groups without long-established ruling class connections, and who may be hostile in important ways to the settled aims and practices of the bourgeoisie.

Hostile takeover?

Donald Trump is a case in point. Although himself a member of the ruling class, he entered the presidential primaries as an (more…)

2_bogdan-droma_demo-poster-1-e1461153470426Bogdan Droma worked in Berlin for three months, between August and October 2014, building the famous Mall of Berlin. As a result of weeks of work going unpaid, as well as of various forms of abusive treatment, he protested together with other workers between November 2014 and February 2015 on an almost daily basis, turning the popular designation of the mall into the Mall of Shame. The case of the Mall of Berlin workers is not an isolated one.

This interview was conducted by Laura Avram and published in Romanian in Gazeta de Arta Politica (GAP) #12 December 2015. The special issue “In the Name of the Periphery. Decolonial theory and intervention in the Romanian context” was coordinated by Veda Popovici and Ovidiu Pop. It was translated by Raluca Parvu for LeftEast.  

Hello Bodgan. Could you start by telling us how you ended up working in Germany?


Bogdan Droma

I left for Germany from England, to work at the construction of the Mall of Berlin. We were assured that we will work with a work contract and will be provided with accommodation, but not everything we were promised materialised: we only got work. We were not given a contract to sign, nor decent accommodation. At the beginning we even had to sleep in the street, and the accommodation they found us subsequently was exceedingly expensive. Initially, we were being promised week after week that we will be given a work contract to sign, but then a million excuses were found for not doing it: the accountant is not here, the lady in charge of the contracts is not available, etc. They found (more…)