The following piece is an extract from a longer article by Phil Hearse that appeared in International Viewpoint, an online Marxist publication, last Thursday (August 10).

For the people of North Korea, warnings from their leadership about the United States seem all too real. During the Korean war (1950-53) the whole of the North was bombed flat and according to some estimates a third of its population died.

Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden explains that although much of the propaganda of today’s North Korean regime is preposterous and idiotic, the hatred of America is often genuine and based on memories of the Korean war:

“The hate, though, is not all manufactured. It is rooted in a fact-based narrative, one that North Korea obsessively remembers and the United States blithely forgets.

“The story dates to the early 1950s, when the U.S. Air Force, in response to the North Korean invasion that started the Korean War, bombed and napalmed cities, towns and villages across the North. It was mostly easy pickings for the Air Force, whose B-29s faced little or no opposition on many missions.

“The bombing was long, leisurely and Read the rest of this entry »

October 24, 2007: Merrill Lynch goes down

by Michael Roberts

It is exactly 10 years since the global financial crash began with the news that the French bank, BNP, had suspended its sub-prime mortgage funds because of “an evaporation of liquidity”.1

Within six months, credit tightened and inter-bank interest rates rocketed. Banks across the globe began to experience huge losses on the derivative funds set up to profit from the housing boom that had taken off in the US, but had started to falter. And the US and the world entered what was later called the great recession – the worst slump in world production and trade since the 1930s.

Ten years later, it is worth reminding ourselves of some of the lessons and implications of that economic earthquake.2 First, the official institutions and mainstream economists never saw Read the rest of this entry »

by Don Franks (Rewrite of Blind Alfred Reed song)

There was never a time when everything was cheap
But these days the cost of living is so steep
If you’re stuck on a benefit
You just know that you’ll be hit
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?

Meritia used her platform for the poor
Like Oliver Twist, please sir, we want some more
The bourgeoisie wouldn’t let that ride
She was duly crucified
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?

Not so long ago , Labour was little lead
Now everywhere you look is blazing red
Well, you can believe the dazzling spin
Just remember what class you’re in
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?

Now in a few more days, we all get to vote
They say that means we’re all in the same boat
parliaments for the smug well dressed
Its not there for the dispossessed
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?

 

Cartoon: Tom Scott/DominionPost

by Phil Duncan

Late this afternoon Green MP and party co-leader Metiria Turei announced that she was stepping down from the co-leader post and would be resigning as an MP as of the end of the current parliamentary term in a few weeks.

She said that the media intrusion and, in effect, harassment of whanau members had become too much and, in order to protect them from further media harassment, she was resigning.  She also said that the Greens’ campaign against poverty was being undermined by the focus on her and so she was taking herself out of the equation.

Middle class loathing of the poor

Turei has been the victim of a sustained campaign of what is essentially class loathing on the part of chunks of the middle class towards the poorest sections of the working class, especially the brown working class poor.  There has been a sustained campaign in the media, engineered by middle class pundits and commentators, people who predominantly would see themselves as “liberals”.

And Turei’s great sin?  At the Read the rest of this entry »

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 Read the rest of this entry »

by Daphna Whitmore

I’m a big fan of rail and will bore anyone who will listen to me about the joy of no longer owning a car in Auckland. I walk five  minutes from home to a train station and travel happily free from the nightmare that is Auckland gridlock.  Auckland as a city for humans needs more electric trains and light rail.

Labour’s plan for transport in Auckland has just been announced and has unashamedly been lifted from the pages of Greater Auckland (formerly TransportBlog). The people from Greater Auckland have done a huge amount of research and have been putting the case every day since 2015 for a world class public transport system in Auckland. It is good to see their ideas being adopted.

What is not great is that Labour will introduce a regional fuel tax to raise money for the programme. This flat tax will mean more indirect taxation, and is inherently anti-working class. Again Labour’s fake concern for the poor is on display.

Auckland’s gridlock is said to cost $1.9b a year in lost productivity. That is a loss for businesses. For the workers stuck in traffic it is a loss in precious time and a loss of enjoyment of life. Labour will lift the financial loss from businesses and have it borne by the people in cars.  Read the rest of this entry »

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  Read the rest of this entry »