Archive for the ‘WWI’ Category

This is the first in what will be an ongoing series on militant and revolutionary women


Working class women played key role in 1915 Glasgow rent strike

by Marianne Kemp

With the partial commodification of state housing – mainly through the imposition of market rents – and the growth of precarious and low-paid work, along with b are existence-level benefits, state house tenants face very hard circumstances.  In the early 1990s Auckland state housing tenants, with the assistance of the Communist Party, formed the State House Action Committee and fought back through rent strikes and occupations.  Both SHAC and the CPNZ  are long gone and, although there have been tenant protests since, there has been no significant tenant movement to carry on the work of SHAC.  It would certainly be a contribution to the struggle if someone produced a reflective history of SHAC – ie an account of its strengths, weaknesses, successes, failures and the lessons for the future.


Working class women and men organised physical defence against the lackeys of the landlords

It can also be helpful to learn about and reflect on previous struggles by working class tenants in both private and state sector rental housing.  There are some important differences between state-owned and privately-owned housing – for instance, it’s a lot easier to put more pressure on a few private landlords than on the state with all its power but, on the other hand, the state has a lot more tenants who can be mobilised against it.  However the changes in state housing, in particular the imposition of commodification via market rents, means there are now increasingly significant similarities between these two forms of rental housing.  This means state housing tenants today can draw inspiration and lessons from earlier struggles against private landlords as well as against the capitalist state as landlord.

One of the most dramatic and significant struggles by working class tenants, certainly in the English-speaking world, took place in (more…)

7311854._UY200_The Imperialism study group is finally getting underway.  We have participants from Ireland, Britain, Spain, Canada, the United States, Australia and NZ.  The first two sessions are being led by Tony Norfield.  Below are his notes for the first session, in which we examine the ‘economic’ aspects of Lenin’s Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism.  This session is taking place at 9am, Sunday, July 24 (NZ time).   Sorry Australian comrades; it’s going to be very early for you!


The following points are based around Lenin’s arguments in Imperialism, but with the intention of raising questions (and giving my answers to some of these) about what this means for imperialism today. After the more general introduction, my comments discuss the ‘economic’ aspects of imperialism; the ‘politics’ of imperialism is planned for next time.

US factory workers make 76 times as much money per hour as their Indonesian counterparts

US factory workers make 76 times as much money per hour as their Indonesian counterparts


Lenin worked on Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism in early 1916, nearly two years after World War One began. When published, it was subtitled ‘a popular outline’. It is often seen as a political response to the war, rather than a work that has much depth or much theoretical content. But this would be to underestimate two important things. Firstly, that the pamphlet grew out of more than 800 (more…)


Photo by Simon Oosterman

by Daphna Whitmore

Margaret Jones died on 19 June aged 96. She was a fun-loving, colourful and committed communist. She was invariably seen at demonstrations with her trusty Workers of the World Unite placard strung around her neck. It was the best slogan of all she reckoned. She was also an animal rights activist and supporter of the organics movement. She loved jazz and dancing. She grew more beautiful as she got older, and was a groovy dresser who looked great in black leather pants and red lipstick, a look she could still pull off in her nineties. She was a teacher and never quite retired. (more…)

LeninIn the 1960s and into the early 1970s, imperialism was a crucial focus of the international left.  It was very widely written about and very widely protested against.  The imperialist assault on Vietnam became the major issue in the world for many young people in particular.

Liberation struggles in Asia, Africa and the Americas inspired a new generation of radicals and led to a profound questioning of how and why capitalism functioned in the way it did, where the oppression of the Third World seemed inherent in the global system.  In this period, struggles against imperialism were widely seen as the driving force of the world revolutionary process.

Third World liberation figures also proved attractive to this new generation.  People like Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Che Guevara, Carlos Marighella, Bernadette Devlin – figures outside the traditional/official communist movement – were widely read and admired, as were earlier anti-imperialists such as C.L.R. James and Carlos Mariategui.Norfield

However, after the long postwar boom came to an end in 1973-74 and revolutions were more often defeated than successful, much of the left began a long political retreat.  One of the features of this retreat was that sections of the left began to stop paying all that much attention to imperialism.

Yet imperialism is not some esoteric, theoretical question.  The simple fact is that as long as workers in the First World fail to see themselves as part of a global class, the majority of which is now in the Third World, they will fail to present any really serious challenge to their own exploiters at home.  They will line up behind their own rulers against other workers, the workers of the Third World.

We should also keep in mind that the vast majority of the working class today reside in the Third World.

Imperialism, then, is a pressing question for the working class in ‘the West’ or First World and for serious opponents of capitalism.

This is especially the case in New Zealand where the bulk of the left 51qPsB+E2aL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_currently prefers to engage in kiwi nationalist campaigns on issues like the TPPA than engage in the harder – but essential – work of promoting international working class and anti-imperialist solidarity.  Such political work is either absent or takes second place to softer issues.

This study group, which is being initiated by some of the people involved in Redline, is primarily concerned with imperialism in the 21st century, but will begin with the first great Marxist work on the subject.

We will be focusing on studying and discussing three books:

V.I. Lenin, Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism

Tony Norfield, The City: London and the global power of finance

John Smith, Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis

You will need copies of these books – or, at least, access to them to take part in the study group.  For further info on the study group, email:



imagesAntonio Gramsci (1891-1937) was/is a major Marxist thinker, but also one who has been seized upon by reformers who want to smooth down the sharper edges of capitalism rather than get rid of it altogether.  Today, 79 years after his death – he died on April 27 – we are reprinting a set of articles that first appeared in issue #114 (2007) of International Socialism journal.  There are things in this which various folks at Redline might disagree with, such as the use of the term Stalinism’, but the articles in general present an analysis of Gramsci well worth reading and also an antidote to the attempt by ‘radical democrats’ to remake Gramsci in their own likeness.  We have left the IS journal introduction as it was in that publication . . .

The violent conquest of power necessitates the creation by the party of the working class of an organisation of the military type…capable of wounding and inflicting grave blows on…the bourgeois state apparatus…at the decisive moment of struggle.
– Antonio Gramsci to a fellow prisoner of Mussolini in the early 1930s

downloadDuring the lifetime of great revolutionaries the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonise them, to hallow their names while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarising it.
– Lenin, State and Revolution

Few cases better fit Lenin’s comment than that of Antonio Gramsci. Since his death on 27 April 1937 those with attitudes the polar opposite of his have attempted to appropriate his ideas. So the organisers of the conferences in London on the anniversary of his death, in 1977 and 1987, claimed the Gramsci of the Prison Notebooks as somehow justifying their own trajectory from Stalinism to Eurocommunism, and from Eurocommunism to a version of Labourism hostile to the party’s left. The main trend in ‘Gramsci studies’ since then has been, if anything, even more to the right. The name ‘Gramsci’ has gained a respectability in academic circles that ‘Lenin’ and ‘Trotsky’ will never have. Meanwhile, the revolutionary ideas of the real Gramsci are treated as (more…)