Anti-Chinese cartoon from California, 1870s

Anti-Chinese cartoon from California, 1870s

by Philip Ferguson

“It is said that women are mentally inferior to men. Why, Sir, have not women always shown themselves equal to men in an intelligent grasp of general questions whenever they have had equal opportunities, whenever they have had an opportunity of having their brains trained, exercised, and developed to the fullest extent? . . . I say the history of the past has shown us that we are justified in looking forward to their admission to the work of government with every confidence.” – William Pember Reeves, on votes for women1

“As to the arguments based on Chinese ancient civilisation, education, industry and frugality, Chinese civilisation was not civilisation as we understood it, but arrested development; their education was a fraud; their learning was limited to a few. . . Chinese frugality (meant) they did not observe the rules of sanitation and decency. . .” – William Pember Reeves on Chinese immigration to New Zealand2

In New Zealand, as in Australia, the 1890s was a decade of feverish attempts to legislate to keep out Asians, especially the Chinese. From the beginning to the end of the decade, legislation was introduced, ranging from naturalisation and aliens bills to undesirable immigrants bills, to prevent the Chinese entering the country and block those already here from becoming citizens and enjoying the normal rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Often the legislation included other ‘undesirables’ as well. Yet this was also a decade in which the banner of progressive social reform was held high – votes for women, factory reform, recognition of trade unions and attacks on the landed estates and their owners were being carried out, often by the same forces orchestrating Read the rest of this entry »

Saudi Arabian absolutist monarchy bombing Yemen

Saudi Arabian absolutist monarchy bombing Yemen, with support from Britain and USA (and NZ government)

by Yassamine Mather

In the last week of April, in the middle of a war in Yemen, where Saudi troops are engaged in major battles, we witnessed a quiet but significant, not to say unprecedented, coup within the Saudi royal family.

On April 29, king Salman bin Abdulaziz dismissed his half-brother, sitting crown prince Muqrin, and appointed his nephew, former interior minister Mohammed bin Nayef, as his replacement. The 55-year-old Nayef is relatively young for the post, in a country where the average age of recent crown princes has been over 70 – Salman had that status in his late 70s. In a single move the king has decided the line of succession for the next few decades, on the same day announcing that his son, Mohammed bin Salman, 30, will become deputy crown prince.

The outgoing crown prince confirmed his departure, but failed to give any explanation for this obvious removal from office. The rumour mill in the Middle East has been claiming that his mother’s humble origins (as a Yemeni slave) had played a part in his downfall. The current holders of power in the Saudi court all come from the Sudairi section of the royal household. They share the same mother, Hassa bint Ahmed al-Sudairi, who was the favourite wife of the kingdom’s founder, Abdulaziz.

Doubts about war in Yemen?

However, a more credible reason for Muqrin’s dismissal might be the widespread belief that he had doubts about Read the rest of this entry »

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Here on Redline and in our previous projects – such as the Anti-Capitalist Alliance/Workers Party, the newspaper The Spark and the magazine revolution  we have consistently argued that NZ is imperialist and not a neo-colony.  The material below is part of this tradition.  The introductory part of what follows appeared on the author’s blog, Socialist Democracy, in early 2008, while the article below it appeared in June 2006 in The Spark.  The author was a leading activist in the ACA/Workers Party.

by Tim Bowron

The news of East Timorese president Jose Ramos-Horta’s wounding in an attack by an armed rebel group on his house in Dili yesterday has already seen renewed calls for more NZ troops to be deployed to the tiny island nation. Already a fresh contingent of 200 Australian military and police and military personnel are en route to Timor, and NZ Defence Minister Phil Goff has stated that a platoon of NZ troops is “on standby” at Burnham to deploy if needed.

It has to be asked, though, what exactly the extra ANZAC forces are supposed to achieve, given that prior to yesterday’s events over 1,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers and police were already stationed in the country as part of an ongoing “peacekeeping” mission.

Of course the truth is that NZ and Australia’s intervention in East Timor has very little to do with humanitarianism – rather it is all about Read the rest of this entry »

by Michael Roberts

What causes slumps: changing animal spirits or the inherent contradictions of capitalism?

What causes slumps: changing animal spirits or the inherent contradictions of capitalism?

The Golden Age of capitalism, when the major economies grew at over 4% real GDP a year and there was relatively moderate inflation and no significant fluctuation in employment i.e slumps, lasted just a short time – from about the late 1950s to the early 1970s.

After that, the major capitalist economies experienced a series of regular and recurrent slumps starting with the first simultaneous post-war international recession in 1974-5, the deep ‘double-dip’ recession of 1980-2, the industrial slump of 1990-2, the mild but global recession of 2001 and finally the Great Recession of 2008-9, the deepest and longest lasting slump since the 1930s Great Depression.

Didn’t see slumps coming

Mainstream macroeconomics did not see these recessions coming and even after they arrived, economists failed to consider their causes or even accept that what mainstream economics used to call ‘business cycles’ were back.

The Great Recession has forced the mainstream to consider causes and explanations more carefully. Keynesians continue to revive the view that slumps are due to sudden collapses in ‘effective demand’ and/or changes in ‘animal spirits’ (the Read the rest of this entry »

The following article is the text of a talk given by the author at the Marxism 2008 educational conference in Auckland.  The conference was organised by the Workers Party.  The author, a leading figure in the no longer extant WP, was debating Brian van Dam of Workers Charter, a supporter of immigration restrictions.

downloadby Tim Bowron

We are continually told by media pundits and academic commentators that we live in an age of “globalisation”, an age in which borders and nation states are becoming increasingly irrelevant faced with the onslaught of giant transnational corporations as well as supranational bodies such as the IMF, WTO and United Nations.

To some this age of globalisation in which we are supposedly living holds the promise of a rosy capitalist utopia – to others though it portends nothing but misery and deprivation for the mass of working people.

But when people talk about globalisation what do they really mean?  Is it really the case that in the 21st century the nation state is no longer essential to the functioning of the capitalist system?

Today I’m going to argue that beneath all of this superficial rhetoric about globalisation the nation state is still in fact every bit as crucial to the maintenance of the capitalist system as it was in the nineteenth century.

But before I do so I want to provide a quick historical overview of the origins of the nation state particularly in the New Zealand context.

The establishment of capitalism in Aotearoa

The establishment of capitalism in New Zealand was inextricably bound up with the construction of the nation state.  The acquisition of this country and the construction of the New Zealand state required the brutal displacement and dispossession of a wide variety of pre-capitalist national identities – in the form of Maori tribal and sub-tribal groups – and their forcible incorporation into a national capitalist economy producing for the domestic and world market.

In order to give the newly emerging New Zealand capitalist class (transplanted largely from other parts of the British empire) total control over their own domestic market and to build support for their modest imperialist forays into the Pacific, however, a Read the rest of this entry »

images (1)by Michael Roberts

Most governments in capitalist economies have engaged in what is loosely called ‘austerity’ policies since the end of the Great Recession in 2009.  More precisely, austerity policies are those where the government aims to reduce its annual deficit on spending and revenues and shrink the overall debt burden, plus introduce ‘reforms’ to weaken the labour rights and conditions at work to keep wage costs down for the capitalist sector.  The fiscal part of these austerity measures mainly involved cutting back on government spending, both in public sector employment, wages, public services and investment projects.

Those economists and governments that advocated austerity claimed that by getting debt ‘under control’, costs would be reduced and companies would invest, consumers would spend and economies would recover quickly.  Keynesians and others who opposed these measures reckoned that austerity would drive down ‘aggregate demand’ as government spending was cut, taxes raised and wages held down.  The way out of the crisis was to borrow more, not less and spend more not less.

The debate continues.  In my view, both sides are Read the rest of this entry »

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Labour leader Andrew Little (above) schmoozes big business, while party general-secretary Tim Barnett proposes economically punishing the low-paid for not registering for the three-yearly election circus

by Don Franks

The New Zealand Labour Party strike a soft cuddly note at the top of their web page: “New Zealand should be the fairest, most decent society in the world. And we can get there together by focussing on the positive things that really matter to Kiwi families.”

Great, let’s go. What are some of those positive things we can focus on together?

Well, Labour’s latest idea is starving low-paid workers into compliance with the electoral system.

Labour has proposed withholding state support such as tax credits and Working For Families from people who are not enrolled to vote. Working For Families pays extra money to low-paid families with children.

A submission to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, written by Labour’s general-secretary Tim Barnett, argues for the idea to be considered: “The possibility of making enrolment to vote a pre-condition to receipt of various forms of state support (eg Working For Families, tax credits) should be examined,” Labour’s submission states.

Despite being legally obliged to enrol, only 91.7 per cent of people did so at the last election, down from 93.4 per cent in 2011. An estimated 77.04 per cent of enrolled voters took part in the election, slightly higher than the 74.2 per cent turnout in 2011. Low voter turnout tends to Read the rest of this entry »