Veteran social justice activist Maire Leadbeater’s latest book is a meticulously-researched work on the attitudes of successive New Zealand governments, both Labour and National, in relation to the independence struggle in West Papua.

In the 1950s, New Zealand supported independence for the former Dutch colony, but this changed in the early 1960s.  Since then governments here have pursued policies which have put their relationships with Indonesian regimes, including the vicious Suharto dictatorship, ahead of the right of the people of West Papua to freedom.

Maire has previously exposed NZ government collusion, by both Labour and National, with the Indonesian dictatorship’s murderous invasion and occupation of Timor Leste (formerly East Timor).  Her work around the cause of the people there led to her being awarded the Order of Timor Leste by the Timorese government last year.

Today, the ‘democratic’ regime in Jakarta pursues murderous policies in West Papua, policies about which we hear very little in New Zealand.

Maire’s new book See No Evil: New Zealand’s betrayal of the people of West Papua, published by Otago University Press, is an important breach in the wall of silence in this country around Read the rest of this entry »

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Striking workers blockade a major road leading into centre of Buenos Aires, June 25. Photo: Jorge Saenz

 

by Robert Belano

A general strike across Argentina brought major industries and transportation to a halt on Monday. The major union bureaucracies — the CGT and the CTA — called for the strike but refused to mobilize workers in the streets. However, the far left parties and the most combative unions organized rallies and roadblocks in various cities. It is the third general strike that has been organized against the Macri government since the right-wing president assumed office in 2015.

Left organizations — in particular, those which compose the Left and Workers’ Front — blocked various bridges and access points to the capital city of Buenos Aires as well as cities in the interior of the country like Cordoba and Rosario. Throughout the capital, not a single bus, train or subway line was running. More than 600 flights in and out of the country were canceled. Schools, banks, ports and thousands of businesses were shuttered.

The workers’ primary demand is for an immediate increase in their salaries at least equal to the inflation rate. Inflation has surpassed 27 percent in the past year while the government is proposing salary increases of only between 15-20 percent for this year, meaning that even after the proposed increases, workers would experience a major decrease in real wages and their standard of living.

This skyrocketing inflation is compounded by the major hikes in utility bills that have been imposed since Read the rest of this entry »

Many useful articles have been written about the recent demonetisation, perhaps the most discussed economic event in India in recent times. The entire discussion has brought to the fore many aspects of India’s economy. Among them is an important theme that we have emphasized in earlier issues of Aspects: Namely, the gulf between different sectors of the economy. This gulf has economic and political implications.

This gulf can be seen in many measures, which are expressions of a single reality: the gap between the income of the ‘informal’ (‘unorganised’) and ‘formal’ (‘organised’) sectors; between rural areas and urban areas; between the sectors producing commodities (agriculture, manufacturing) and the services sector; between income-poor regions which are rich in natural resources and other regions where income is concentrated.

The gulf is also within each sector, between the activities which make up most of the employment, and the activities which have most of the income. For instance, what is termed the ‘services sector’ encompasses both the courier delivery man and the captains of the financial world; ‘urban areas’ include the most miserable squalor and the most obscene wealth; mining regions are the homes of destitute tribals as well as the fiefdoms of mining barons. Thus when we talk of any of these categories or regions we need to be clear which sections and activities we are discussing.

The perverse course of ‘development’ being pursued by the economy, far from narrowing this gulf, keeps reproducing it and expanding it, by transferring not only surpluses but even, increasingly, natural assets (which are not reproducible) from the informal sector to the formal sector. This process substantially explains the dramatic growth of inequality in recent years.

While the current policies are touted as ‘formalising’ the economy, in fact thoroughgoing formalisation (which critically involves formalising employment and its terms) is not on the cards. Instead, policy measures that, within the existing framework, increase the share of formal sector firms (corporations) in the economy actually increase the incomes of the cream of the formal economy, without increasing employment in that sector. At the same time, they depress the incomes and employment of the vast majority in the informal sector. Thus we find that:

(i) the share of the organised sector in national income (GDP) has risen from about one-third in the 1980s to well over half today; but

(ii) within that organised sector GDP, the share of workers’ wages has collapsed, causing the share of profits to rise correspondingly;

(iii) more than half the workers in the organised sector are now informal workers (contract, casual, etc); and

(iv) the unorganised sector still accounts for the overwhelming majority of jobs – i.e., a growing number of workers in this sector have to share a shrinking percentage of national income.

The entire discussion on this question betrays how (i) the very methodology of estimating GDP disregards or discards the Read the rest of this entry »

It’s easy to have woman working and stay at home dad when the woman is being paid over $470,000 a year; but what about poor families?

by Don Franks

NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s bearing of a baby while in office has understandably launched many words.

Michelle Duff writing in the NZ Herald enthused: “When her partner Clarke Gayford is excited about being a stay at home dad, it’s equally inspirational.

“It sets a precedent.  It normalises powerful women and nurturing, caring men.  It decimates outdated ideals of where a mother ‘should’ be – at home, with the children, while dad earns the money.  It smashes those boring boxes and makes room for new shapes, new ways we can all live our lives.

“It creates a conversation about Read the rest of this entry »

A number of participants in the Imperialism study/discussion group initiated by Redline have been involved in debating David Harvey’s view of imperialism recently through the Review of African Political Economy.

Thanks to Walter Daum for sending us the links.  We have very much valued discussing imperialism with him, John Smith and Andy Higginbottom as well as Tony Norfield and other folks involved in the study/discussion group.

So much of the left in the imperialist world downplays the question of imperialism or reduces it to military invasions such as the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan etc.  The political economy of imperialism, including the role it plays in shaping the material position, experience and political consciousness of workers in the First World often tends to be overlooked or even denied.

David Harvey Denies Imperialism
by John Smith
January 10, 2018
 
Realities on the Ground: David Harvey replies to John Smith
by David Harvey
February 5, 2018
 
Imperialist Realities vs. the Myths of David Harvey
by John Smith
March 19, 2018
 
Dissolving Empire: David Harvey, John Smith, and the Migrant
by Adam Mayer
April 10, 2018
 
Towards a Broader Theory of Imperialism
by Patrick Bond
April 18, 2018
 
Is Imperialism Still Imperialist? A Response to Patrick Bond 
by Walter Daum 
May 16, 2018
 
A Self-Enriching Pact: Imperialism and the Global South
by Andy Higginbottom
June 19, 2018

by Daphna Whitmore

This deceptively slim book covers a lot of ground. The author, Ilan Pappe, is a well-known expatriate Israeli historian, critic and social activist. He is one of the ‘new historians’ arising in Israel who have challenged the official Zionist version of Israel’s history.  As the name suggests Ten Myths is divided into sections which saves it from becoming a heavy treatise on the making of Israel.

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Ilan Pappe

Pappe takes apart the myth of Palestine being an empty land and shows how the displacement of the indigenous people was a part of early Zionist ideology. Pappe challenges Israel’s claim to represent all Jews,  and presents Zionism as  settler colonialism and the Palestinian national movement as an anti-colonial movement. 

Zionism  sought to transform a religion into nationalism at a time when the formation of nations was on the rise, particularly in Europe. Then after World War 2, when colonialism was being rejected by the civilised world, Zionism was supported in becoming a colonialist project “because the creation of a Jewish state offered Europe, and West Germany in particular, an easy way out of the worst excesses of anti-Semitism ever seen. Israel was the first to declare its recognition of ‘a new Germany’—in return it received a lot of money, but also, far more importantly a carte blanche to turn the whole of Palestine into Israel. Zionism offered itself as the solution to anti-Semitism, but became the main reason for its continued presence.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Congress in Argentina has been discussing abortion law reform in that country.  Mass action in support of reform has taken place in the streets, there have been school occuaptions and other action.  Below is the mass march and rally in Buenos Aires; the video is by Left Voice.

As you will see at the end of the video, the vote in the Congress was 129-125 in favour of the legalisation of abortion.