Archive for the ‘State capitalism’ Category

NZ Capitalism Ltd’s smiley new manager

by Phil Duncan

When Helen Clark led Labour into government in 1999, little was on offer for workers.  True, to the left of Labour was the Alliance Party which wanted the introduction of paid parental leave and forced this on Labour as part of the price of coalition, Helen Clark having said initially that it would be introduced “over my dead body”.  However, overall, Labour had been engaged in ensuring workers did not have any high expectations of the incoming government – thus there was no way of workers being disappointed and possibly looking left.

All Clark and her party had to do was sit out enough terms of National in the 1990s – three, as it happened – and rely on people getting bored with the traditional Tories and turning to the new, shinier Tories of the Labour Party.  Moreover, the National-led government came apart in the middle of its third term, with Shipley overthrowing Bolger and with New Zealand First going into parliamentary meltdown – NZF leader Winston Peters entered a major ruck with Shipley and many of his MPs decamped to keep National afloat.  Clark could comfortably walk into power over the rubble.

Altered political landscape

In the few weeks run-up to the latest election Clark fan/acolyte Jacinda Ardern faced a somewhat altered political landscape.  In (more…)

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In the Imperialism study/discussion group at the weekend, Andy H mentioned an introduction to Lenin’s Imperialism by an Australian Marxist.  This is the piece; it was originally written in the late 1990s and first appeared on-line in 2003.

by Doug Lorimer*

I. Lenin’s aims in writing this work

The term “imperialism” came into common usage in England in the 1890s as a development of the older term “empire” by the advocates of a major effort to extend the British Empire in opposition to the policy of concentrating on national economic development, the supporters of which the advocates of imperialism dismissed as “Little Englanders”. The term was rapidly taken into other languages to describe the contest between rival European states to secure colonies and spheres of influence in Africa and Asia, a contest that dominated international politics from the mid-1880s to 1914, and caused this period to be named the “age of imperialism”.

The first systematic critique of imperialism was made by the English bourgeois social-reformist economist John Atkinson Hobson (1858-1940) in his 1902 book Imperialism: A Study, which, as Lenin observes at the beginning of his own book on the subject, “gives a very good and comprehensive description of the principal specific economic and political features of imperialism” (see below, p. 33).

Lenin had long been familiar with Hobson’s book. Indeed, in a letter written from Geneva to his mother in St. Petersburg on August 29, 1904, Lenin stated that he had just “received Hobson’s book on imperialism and have begun translating it” into Russian.(1)

In a number of his writings between 1895 and 1913, Lenin had noted some of the characteristics of the imperialist epoch, for example: the (more…)

At Redline, we’d tend to see China very much as capitalist.  But we are also keen on discussion, comradely debate and serious examination of political issues.  It’s in that spirit that we are running the article below.

by Michael Roberts

Xi Jinping has been consecrated as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong after a new body of political thought carrying his name was added to the Communist party’s constitution.  The symbolic move came on the final day of a week-long political summit in Beijing – the 19th party congress – at which Xi has pledged to lead the world’s second largest economy into a “new era” of international power and influence.

At a closing ceremony in the Mao-era Great Hall of the People it was announced that Xi’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era had been written into the party charter. “The congress unanimously agrees that Xi Jinping Thought … shall constitute [one of] the guides to action of the party in the party constitution,” a party resolution stated.

At the same time, the new Politburo standing committee of seven was announced.  These supreme leaders are all over 62 and so will not be eligible to become party secretary in five years.  That almost certainly means that Xi will have an unprecedented (more…)

Note how the current National government, which came to power in the wake of the global financial crisis, has generally spent slightly more (as a % of GDP) on health and education than the previous Labour government (which enjoyed good economic times and substantial budget surpluses)

by Phil Duncan

The latest ColmarBrunton poll is not good news for National, showing their support dropping by 2.2 percentage points to 45.2%.  This would make it very hard for them to form a government with their current coalition partners – the Maori Party, Act and United Future.

However, the news is far worse for Labour.  Less than 8 weeks out from the general election, they have dropped a further 2.3 percentage points to just 24.1 support.  Their leader, Andrew Little, is only fourth in the preferred prime minister stakes.  Not only is he on less than a third of the support registered for National Party prime minister Bill English, he is now well behind New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and even behind his own deputy-leader Jacinda Ardern.

The only traction Labour seems able to get is in reverse.  Meanwhile New Zealand First continues to expand support, as do the Greens.

If Labour falls just a couple more percentage points then Little could actually be out of parliament, because he is only a List MP; he hasn’t been able to win a constituency seat.

Given that we are at the end of the third term of National, Labour’s position in the polls is especially dismal for them.  Can anyone remember a government that, at the end of its third term, was as popular as National and an opposition that was as unpopular as Labour?  It certainly hasn’t happened since Labour and National became the two dominant parties post-1935.

While a section of Labourites are in denial, pretending the polls results are not accurate, Little himself knows better and has said he is prepared to resign.  But Labour’s woes go far deeper than who happens to be the leader.  After all, they’ve had four leaders in less than nine years and what has happened?  Under Phil Goff, Labour wallowed, so he was replaced by David Shearer; under Shearer, Labour wallowed, so he was replaced by David Cunliffe; under Cunliffe, Labour wallowed, so he was replaced by Andrew Little; under Little, Labour has wallowed; in fact, it’s at its lowest point in decades.

Running deeper than the inability of successive leaders to grow Labour support is that there has been an ongoing erosion of its party vote in many of its old general roll heartland areas.  In 2014, for instance, more blue collar workers voted National than Labour and National now has the party vote in traditional Labour seat after Labour seat.

Put in short: the big majority of the working class don’t see Labour as (more…)

Below is the text of a talk delivered by Dani in Dunedin on Friday, July 21.

by Dani Sanmugathasan

Good evening! My name is Dani Sanmugathasan, and I am a member of the British Marxist and Leninist organisation called the Revolutionary Communist Group. The following talk will be on the topic of ‘Corbynmania’ – the opportunist phenomenon that’s swept through the labour movements in core economies over the last two years – and a good place to start is at the events in London earlier this month.

INTRODUCTION

“Oh, Je-re-my Cor-byn!” rang out the chants of many on the streets of London on the 1st of July at the People’s Assembly’s ‘Tories Out’ march. The People’s Assembly, Momentum, Radical Housing Network, the Socialist Workers Party, the Stop the War Coalition, the Socialist Party, and the large trade unions (PCS, RMT, CWU, Unison, Len McCluskey’s Unite the Union…) were all rallying round the Labour Party leader, the holy Son of Attlee, the man who would save Britain from the iron grip of Tory austerity.

But beside these organisations, a distinct second current of marchers – composed of such organisations as Class War, the Focus E15 Mothers, Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants, Architects for Social Housing, Movement For Justice, the Revolutionary Communist Group, and trade unions like the IWGB – led a different chant: “Labour, Tory, same old story!” These groups made (more…)

nationalcolaNo-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons.

Nevertheless, there are certainly sections of the anti-capitalist left who, in practice, retain illusions in Labour.  Some think Labour is still, at its core, some kind of “workers’ party” and that it is therefore permissible to vote for it and call on others to vote for it.  Or to take sides in Labour leadership elections.  Or to invite Labour speakers to speak at their educational conferences.  Or to demonise National in such a way that points clearly to support for Labour, without actually saying so.

Even on the anti-capitalist left, there are also some illusions about the first Labour government.  And illusions about the early Labour Party from its founding in 1916 to the formation of the first Labour government.

It is a form of comfort politics.  Just as some infants require comforters, a left which hasn’t yet grown up and been prepared to face the harsh realities of the 21st century capitalist world requires the comfort of thinking that there was once a mass force for socialism in this country and that it was the early Labour Party.

In fact, there has never been a mass force for socialism in New Zealand.  There were certainly revolutionary elements in this country – marxists, anarchists, syndicalists – in the early 1900s and there were far more of them then, when New Zealand only had a million people, than there are today when the country has 4.5 million people.  One of the functions of the early Labour Party was to destroy these revolutionary elements, in part by mopping them up and sucking them into Labour, transforming them into harmless social democrats.  Where they couldn’t do this, they worked to marginalise them and destroy their organisations.

All the while, through the 1920s, Labour moved rightwards, becoming more and more oriented to saving and running the system than getting rid of it.  Labour was always far more hostile to the anti-capitalist left than it was to capitalism.  And, of course, the early Labour Party staunchly advocated for the White New Zealand policy, indicated that they preferred a divided and politically weakened working class – ie one more likely to turn to Labour as its saviour – than a united, politically powerful working class which didn’t need the Labour Party.

Over the five years that this blog has existed, we have run a lot of articles on Labour, including some major, lengthy pieces.  Below are many of the major ones but, for a full list, go to the Labour Party NZ category on the left-hand side of the blog home page.

Labour on immigration – from bad to worse

Political donations and the National-Labour siblings

Labour’s immigrant bashing has a human cost

What every worker should know about Labour’s 1987 Labour Relations Act

Can the Labour Party survive?

A comment on Labour’s ‘Ready to Work’

Latest opinion poll – Labour just can’t catch a break

The truth about Labour: a bosses’ party

Labour’s racist roots

First Labour government wanted ‘Aryan’ immigrants, not Jewish refugees from the Nazis

Labour’s introduction of peacetime conscription and the fight against it

1949 Carpenters’ dispute: Labour and the bosses versus the workers

Twyford is at it again

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

Anti-working class to its core: the third Labour government (1972-75)

Labour’s legal leg-irons – thanks to fourth Labour government

Some further observations on the fourth Labour government

Workers, unions and the Labour Party: unravelling the myths

For a campaign for union disaffiliation from the Labour Party

Labour’s leadership contest: confusions and illusions on the left

Recalling the reign of Helen Clark

Income and wealth inequality unchanged by last Labour government

Darien Fenton at the fantastic conference

New Labour Party general-secretary indicative of party’s managerial capitalism

Why Labour wasn’t worth the workers’ ticks

Why do otherwise sane, well-meaning people choose to delude themselves about the Labour Party and make up rosy nonsense about its past?

Chris Trotter’s false recovered memory syndrome

Empty Andy and the ‘Eh?’ team

Union movement gathers for ‘fairness at work’; Labour gathers missionaries

Labour parties and their ‘left’ oppositions

Imperialism had a debilitating and corrupting impact on the workers’ movement in the developed capitalist world. The leaderships of many workers’ parties lined up behind their own exploiters and helped send millions of workers to horrible deaths and mutilation.

Before World War I broke out, the parties of the Second International were pledged to oppose such a war.  Yet as soon as the shooting started, the bulk of these parties lined up behind their own ruling classes and encouraged the working class in each of these countries to go and kill the workers of other countries.

Those who opposed the imperialist war were faced with, among other things, the task of explaining how this had happened.  Where did the rot in the Second International come from?

In fact, there had been a number of political battles already which showed that reformism and imperialist nationalism were becoming more and more powerful within the Second International.  These battles had included what stance to take on immigration and immigration controls and what stance to take towards the possession of colonies.

When the Third International was established, its founders made thorough-going anti-imperialism one of the conditions for membership.

In the work below, Lenin examines the impact of imperialism on the workers’ movement and the parties of the Second International.  It was written in October 1916 and published in a revolutionary newspaper in Russia in December of that year.  Several people translated it and it was marked up by several comrades for the Marxist Internet Archive.  The MIA is an invaluable source for the writings of a wide range of revolutionaries – as well as figures from the non-revolutionary left; please support the work of the MIA.

by V.I. Lenin

Is there any connection between imperialism and the monstrous and disgusting victory opportunism (in the form of social-chauvinism) has gained over the labour movement in Europe?

This is the fundamental question of modern socialism. And (more…)