Archive for the ‘WWI’ Category

As Russia’s political leaders and oligarchs struggle with how to commemorate the centenary of the 1917 workers’ revolution, Auckland actors and activists will be assembling in Karangahape Road on Guy Fawkes’ Day in November for a show that examines the potential and the end of one of the most significant moments of the 20th century.

Reds is a two-hour play by veteran screenplay writer and playwright Dean Parker.  It looks at the events and personalities that shook the world a century ago.

It will be given a reading at the Thirsty Dog, on Karangahape Rd, on Sunday November 5, Guy Fawkes’ Day, 2pm.

Top-line actors Robyn Malcolm (Outrageous Fortune), Stuart Devenie (Braindead), Jennifer Ward-Lealand (Dirty Laundry), Elizabeth McRae (Shortland St), Rachel House (Hunt For The Wilderpeople) and Charlie Bleakly (Scarfies) will be joined by former Greens MP Sue Bradford, Unite Union organisers Mike Treen and Joe Carolan, and Mangere East Community Centre director Roger Fowler.

Robyn Malcolm will be playing the (more…)

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Police violence against locked-out workers sparked the formation of a workers’ militia

Constance Markievicz, founder of first republican paramilitary organisation of 1900s and a founding leader of the workers’ militia

 

by Philip Ferguson*

Described by Lenin as the world’s first Red Army, the Irish Citizen Army was formed by members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union and other trade unionists in Dublin in August 1913.  Socialist and therefore also republican, the ICA was not, however, the first working class paramilitary organisation to be formed in Ireland in Ireland in the early 1900s.  That honour goes to Fianna Eireann, a predominantly working class youth organisation founded by Constance, Countess Markievicz who would go on to be a key figure in the workers’ militia.

James Larkin and James Connolly

The Fianna

Markievicz, a militant left-wing republican, was moved to form the Fianna in August 1909 for two reasons.  One was that, while new to Irish republicanism – she had thrown herself into it just the year before – she had already decided that any serious political movement for Irish freedom would, sooner or later, have to confront Britain in arms.  Her reading of Irish history had taught her that if you built a serious political movement, at some point the British state would confront you with its military force.  Unless you were armed and prepared to fight, your movement would end in ignominy, confusion and demoralisation.

The other – and this was the immediate factor in the formation of the Fianna – was the arrival of Baden-Powell in Ireland to start an Irish wing of his boy scouts movement.  Markievicz noted that his aim was to get Irish youth to support the British empire and oppose the liberation of their own country and their own class, the working class.  Her and friends such as Helena Moloney went recruiting for na Fianna in working class areas of Dublin.

Having come from the aristocracy, Markievicz knew about shooting and had a great interest in things military.  She wrote the Fianna handbook, taught the boys to drill and to shoot and, later, how to blow things up.  The Fianna were also sent out to rough up the Boy Scouts.  This ‘ruffianism’ was guided by two ideas: (more…)

212 pages; softcover.  Price: $20.00 USD (plus shipping: $5.00 US, $22.50 int’l); published by Marxists Internet Archive; ISBN: 978-0-692-88676-2

Orders:  http://www.erythrospress.com/store/mariategui.html

José Carlos Mariátegui (1894-1930), the founder and director of the seminal journal Amauta and of the Peruvian Socialist Party, is regarded as one of Peru’s, and Latin America’s most influential and original Marxist thinkers.  Indeed, in the three-quarters of a century since his death, interest in Mariátegui and his ideas has waned but little, if at all.

The main selection in this volume, History of the World Crisis, consists of a series of lectures delivered to workers’ schools by Mariátegui upon his return to Peru after a four-year stay in Europe.  In those seventeen lectures, delivered between June 1923 and January 1924, Mariátegui insightfully and incisively examines the post-World War I world crisis, the weakening 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…)

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…)

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

glasgow-rent-strike

Working class women played key role in 1915 Glasgow rent strike

by Marianne Kemp

The partial commodification of state housing – mainly through the imposition of market rents – and the growth of precarious and low-paid work, along with bare existence-level benefits, mean state house tenants today 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.

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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…)