Archive for the ‘State repression’ Category

Thomas Suarez, State of terror: how terrorism created modern Israel, London: Skyscraper Publications, 2016, pp418, £20.  Reviewed by Tony Greenstein.

The state of Israel prides itself on being at the forefront of the ‘war against terror’ and the war on Islam and it is this which makes Israel the darling of Europe’s far right. But this book documents how the Israeli state was born in a wave of terror that makes Palestinian guerrilla groups seem like children at play.

Terror was remorselessly directed at the indigenous Palestinians by the three main Zionist militias – the Labour Zionist Haganah and its Palmach shock-troops; the revisionist Irgun, a split-off from Haganah in 1931 (Haganah Bet); and Lehi or the Stern Gang, a breakaway from Irgun in August 1940. The Irgun was commanded by Menachem Begin, who in 1977 was elected prime minister of Israel. Lehi, which parted from Irgun on the question of continuing the war against the British, was initially commanded by Avraham Stern and later a triumvirate, which included future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir (1983-84, 1986-92). Lehi distinguished itself by making two proposals in 1940 for a military pact with Nazi Germany against the British!

Suarez’s book is based on copious research from the Public Record Office at Kew. A clue to this book’s importance is the fierce campaign waged by the Zionist movement against it and its author. In Cambridge the Zionists managed to get a meeting relating to it cancelled.1 In Portsmouth the Zionists enlisted the aid of the Council’s Prevent officer, Charlie Pericleous, in order to put pressure on venues to cancel such talks. Presumably opposing Zionism makes you an ‘extremist’ and therefore a potential terrorist – a good example of how anti-terror laws are used to attack free speech. A talk at the School of Oriental and African Studies was disrupted by a group of Zionists led by Jonathan Hoffman, a well known activist, former Zionist Federation official and someone who has no problem with working with fascist and anti-Semitic groups, such as the English Defence League.

A talk held at the House of Lords on December 15 2016, hosted by Baroness Tonge, was subject to the same bogus complaints of anti-Semitism (on March 15 2017 an ethics committee of the House of Lords dismissed the allegations as baseless).

The Daily Mail, the paper which waged a campaign against Jewish immigration from Nazi Germany and tsarist Russia, became (more…)

The retirement of southern Irish taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny several months ago led to Leo Varadkar taking his place.  Varadkar is young, gay and his father is an Indian immigrant to Ireland.  Varadkar’s victory in the leadership contest in the Fine Gael party and assumption of the role of prime minister has been widely hailed as some kind of victory for gay rights and anti-racism.  Varadkar, however, is a committed anti-working class politician, with no track record of campaigning for either gay or migrant rights.  Varadkar  is no friend of the oppressed and exploited – quite the contrary.  The article is taken from the Irish Socialist Democracy website here, where it appeared on June 30.  It is a timely reminder that people need to be judged by their politics rather than being lauded because they are gay and/or female and/or brown.

The election of Leo Varadkar as Fine Gael leader – and his assumption of the role of Taoiseach – has been hailed as a watershed event in Ireland.  This perspective – which is particularity prevalent in international media coverage – carries the assumption that identity is the overriding factor in contemporary politics.  Within this framework the election of a relatively young gay man of ethnic migrant descent – standing in stark contrast to the profile of leaders that went before – is indeed a seminal event.  The other assumption attached to this identity-centred perspective is that a person from such a background will have a more liberal approach to politics.  However, a consideration of the record of Leo Varadkar quickly debunks such assumptions.      

Right-wing

Despite his relative youth, Varadkar is a long standing member of Fine Gael (he claims to have joined as a 17 year old) – the most conservative party in the state – and has consistently occupied the most right-wing positions on a range of issues, including those related to sexuality and race.  In 2010 he opposed the Civil Partnership Bill and also raised concerns over the prospect of gay couples  (more…)

Epitomising sanctimonious bourgeois respectability

by Phil Duncan

Labour is, politically, a respectable bourgeois party.

Sociologically, it is peopled largely by respectable liberal middle class people.  Just take a look at the backgrounds of Labour MPs, the party’s top managers and new folks on the Labour party list for September.

They are overwhelmingly people who are thoroughly removed from the reality of poverty and people struggling to make ends meet.

They want all the poor people – people struggling to survive on the smell of an oily rag – to be respectably bourgeois like themselves. Such well-behaved poor people can then be grateful supplicants, looked after by the patronising Labour do-gooders.

And poor people who help themselves – like to a few extra bucks to feed their kids, as Metiria Turei did – are to be roundly condemned by respectable bourgeois like Jacinda Ardern and her idiot fan club.

Reminds me of the (more…)

Earlier this week (July 23) marked the 50th anniversary of the urban rebellion in Detroit, Michigan.  This was the era of explosions in the deprived black communities of urban America, opening with the rebellion in Harlem (New York) on the east Coast in 1964, the Watts ghetto (Los Angeles) on the west coast in 1965 and continuing in many places in between through the rest of the 1960s, with the biggest explosions coming with the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968.  Below, we’re running a piece by the comrades of the US Marxist group The Spark; this was the editorial that appeared in the current round of all their fortnightly workplace bulletins. 

by The Spark

In 1965, Detroit’s then mayor declared that the revolt in Watts couldn’t happen in “his city”. In 2017, Detroit’s current mayor declared that 1967 wasn’t an uprising. But it DID happen, and it WAS an uprising, an uprising of oppressed people. Before it was over, the Detroit revolt of 1967 would become the largest of any uprising in 20th century America. It was “the fire next time” that James Baldwin had written about in 1962.

In 1967 – no matter how many marches, how many court cases, how many laws – unemployment continued. Impoverishment drained people. Cops went into neighborhoods like an occupying army. There was a vast powder keg of unmet needs and grievances.

All it took was an “ordinary” incident of (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…)

People from this blog and people from AWSM (Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement) are currently working together to encourage people not to vote, and do so as a conscious political choice, in the September general election.

The facebook page will, in particular, be challenging the idea that Labour is some sort of alternative to National.  That’s the argument of the Labour hacks and the soft left outside Labour.

They want you to vote for the party that, for the past two years, has been running a racist campaign against “people with Chinese-sounding surnames” and trying to blame them for the housing crisis.

A vote for Labour is a vote for a xenophobic party.

In the 2011 and 2014 elections, Labour campaigned to raise the retirement age.

The last Labour government presided over year after year of budget surpluses, while refusing to raise social welfare benefits.

The last Labour government presided over the expansion of zero-hours contracts.

The last Labour government opposed parental leave; its leader, Helen Clark, even said paid parental leave would be introduced “over my dead body”.

The last Labour government brought in a load of repressive, anti-civil liberties legislation after 9/11.

And, not content with bringing in repressive laws, they went after left activists and attempted to frame-up a whole bunch of them on absurd “terrorism” charges.  The ‘terror raids’ saw several hundred military and armed police descend on Tuhoe country, terrorising people in and around Ruatoki.  Homes of activists across the country were also raided.

Although most of the charges were so flimsy they had to be eventually dropped, Labour’s police state raids and charges made life hell for the arrested activists for several years.  And veteran Maori activist Tame Iti and fellow activist Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara were successfully stitched up and imprisoned for several years.

A vote for Labour is a vote for that.

The last Labour government threatened to end social welfare benefits for people in areas declared “unemployment black spots” and told unemployed people in these areas to move.

A vote for Labour is a vote for that.

The last Labour government joined in the invasion of Afghanistan and sent NZ troops to Iraq just in time to met the deadline allowing NZ companies to bid for ‘reconstruction’ contracts’.

A vote for Labour is a vote for that.

While the mushy section of leftists back up the Labour Party and try to act as enablers for its xenophobic, repressive and all-round anti-working class policies, there is an alternative, an anti-capitalist alternative.

Chunks of the left are revealing themselves to be merely anti-National Party rather than anti-capitalist.  Our aim, however, is to get people to make a conscious political decision not to vote and begin the task of politicising the non-voters who already vastly outnumber the people who vote Labour.  (Indeed, in the last election, more blue-collar workers voted National than Labour, seeing National as the lesser-evil).

Support – and, even better, join in – the Not Voting is a Political Act campaign.  The facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/NotVotingIsAPoliticalAct/

Help us promote the page.

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