[A man holed up in a house in Porirua since shooting dead a police dog on 22 April 2016 has been found dead at scene, police say.]

yes, I’m sorry for the dog

of course I never knew him back

when he was at that dear wee puppy stage

have no idea what went on in his head

when struggling with strange commands his masters said

never felt his rage

“poor choices” automatically we say

get on with our day

Porirua station’s getting cold

our train will be here soon

all the tickets will be sold

by Don Franks

by Ashley Smith and Lance Selfa

Democrat-Donkey-pic-1Senator Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic Party nomination for president has certainly energized thousands. It has also rekindled an old debate on the American left that revolves around the question: Should the left join, endorse, support, or work for campaigns in the Democratic Party?

Socialists should have nothing but sympathy for the aspirations of those thousands who support Sanders for all the right reasons: his call for “political revolution” against the “billionaire class,” his support for a single-payer health care system and a massive “green jobs” program, and for his refusal to run away from the “socialist” label. Sanders is helping to inject some idea of socialism into the mainstream political discussion, and socialists and other radicals should take advantage of that to raise the profile of socialism in the broad left, especially with those who are new to radical and socialist ideas.

If that was all that had to be said about Sanders’ campaign, there wouldn’t be much of a debate to be had. But the strategic discussion of the left’s relationship to Sanders’ campaign specifically, and to the Democratic Party in general, is much more contentious. Nor is it a peripheral or academic discussion. In fact, the left’s relationship to the Democratic Party is arguably the main explanation for its failure to build a sustained mass political alternative representing, and projecting the politics of, an anti-capitalist left.

Some readers may wonder why it’s important to discuss building a mass anti-capitalist left party. If Sanders can win the Democratic nomination on the platform on which he has campaigned so far, wouldn’t that constitute a victory for the left? Why would the left need its own political vehicle? This perspective—call it an “optimistic” scenario—presumes that the Democratic Party will actually allow Sanders to win its nomination. Second, it assumes that the left can take over the Democratic Party and even transform it into an instrument to stand up for working people. We will argue that neither of these “optimistic” outcomes is likely. In fact, history shows that betting against these outcomes is about the closest approximation to a sure thing there is.

But to establish that assertion, we have to understand just what the Democratic Party is and what it is not. Since at least the time of the New Deal, when organized labor gained a solid institutional foothold in the Democratic Party, liberals and activists have proposed that popular forces or the left can democratically take over the Democratic Party. If the left could accomplish this, the argument went, it could transform the Democrats, one of the two big-business parties in the American political duopoly, into a vehicle for progressive social change. This was the core contention of the “realignment” thesis of the post-World War II era.1

The realignment thesis was premised on the idea that the social movement pressure of the labor movement and the civil rights movement would provoke a split in a party that, after all, incorporated both those forces and (at the time) the leaders of the Jim Crow South. Even under better circumstances for the left than exist today—back when a quarter to a third of U.S. workers were unionized and thousands engaged in mass action against Jim Crow—the Democratic Party remained a cross-class amalgamation of interests where labor and liberals consistently surrendered to business. Sanders’ supporters today have a lot of enthusiasm and hope, but they have little of the social weight of the postwar labor and civil rights movements.

Only a Ballot Line?

Some on the left reject characterizing the Democrats as a party of capital. For example, Jason Schulman argues that the Democratic and Republican parties have now become “state-run ballot lines, whose ‘membership’ consists of registered voters rather than dues-payers. It is the state, not the party, which controls who can register as a Democrat or a Republican.”2 Given that, he and others contend that the Democratic Party can be taken over by progressive candidates and voters.

This claim does not stand up to the test of facts. It’s true that the Democratic Party machine no longer exists as it once did and that it does not have “members,” but only registered voters. But these developments do not weaken capital’s hold on the party. They have actually strengthened it.

The party is now more dependent on capitalists because elections have become Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks to Paul Buhle for passing this piece on to us to put up on Redline.  It was written late last year and appeared first on Counterpunch.

clr-jamesby Lawrence Ware and Paul Buhle

At the Schomburg division of the New York Public Library, in the fall of 1989, a small crowd gathered for a forum on the life of the man called by many the last great Pan-Africanist. CLR James (1901-89) had transitioned only months earlier, and his death prompted many to reflect upon his life and work in the United States, his native Caribbean, and the United Kingdom.

The most distinguished, not to mention eldest, of the panelists (joining Eric Foner and Paul Buhle) was the legendary Harlem lawyer Conrad Lynn. Since the early 1940s, Lynn had fought case after case, many of them political, some seemingly personal, for the freedom of African-Americans. A deep intellect in his own right, Lynn had known every major Harlem personality, and James was one of his favorites among them.

MalcolmBy that time James was the most impressive black Marxist in political movements outside the Communist Party milieu. With Lynn, he was a member of the little Workers Party—erstwhile followers of Trotsky (they had broken with him before
his assassination, refusing to support any side in the approaching world war). The WP drew in a small handful of non-whites, workers and intellectuals. Lynn quit, James stayed…until other splits followed. Nevertheless, the two remained friends and renewed their friendship when geography allowed. Having read The Black Jacobins, Lynn considered James to be a world-class thinker. Here is the story that Lynn told that night in the Schomburg; a story that he did not offer in his memoir There is a Fountain. It does not appear in the extensive biographical studies of Malcolm X, but it has the ring of truth.

Lynn was a legal advisor to Malcolm during the Read the rest of this entry »

by Tony Norfield

What are the Brits doing? On June 23 they will vote in a referendum on whether to remain in the European Union, to which they have belonged since 1973. It is rare for a marriage of more than forty years to break up, especially by the decision of the partner that had asked twice for betrothal. Of course, these are relationships between countries, not people. Yet the U.K.-European relationship will be affected even if the U.K. votes Stay rather than Leave, just as if a partner had decided to sleep in a separate room in the same home. To examine the U.K.’s decision, this article reviews some key events in the historical relationship and the unusual position of the U.K. as a European power.

Many writers in Britain have considered U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to call a referendum on E.U. membership to be simply his way of dealing with Read the rest of this entry »


Under Helen Clark’s government, the wages of rest home workers bordered on the minimum wage.

by Susanne Kemp

In her April 15 presentation at the United Nations as to why she should be taken on to lead this august institution of imperialism, Helen Clark ended with the following:  “I want to end with a Māori proverb from my country which says ‘He aha te mea nui o te ao? What is the most important thing in the world? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata. It is people, it is people, it is people’.”

While many people in New Zealand are fully aware that Clark ain’t no people person – she’s such a cold fish that it took her years and a major makeover to even break out of the margin of error category in the polls for politician most preferred as prime minister when she first clawed and stabbed her way to the post of leader of the Labour Party.  Her ‘he tangata’ dissembling was presumably relying on her audience not being aware of her record and how she doesn’t really give a shit about people at all.

Anyone with any experience of private girls’ schools will recognise the Helen Clark type.  The teachers’ pet, the snitch, the goody-goody that no-one likes and that you know is driven by ambition to get ahead in order to get ahead rather than to help anyone get their rights.  And that, driven by a totally personalised ambition, manages to advance herself.

For instance, in her UN job interview speech she presented herself as an advocate of women’s rights.  Women’s rights is very ‘in’ these days with bourgeois women and the UN, and Clark is smart enough to know this and play the gender and glass ceiling card.  Well, she had nine years as prime minister in which to reform this country’s anti-abortion laws, which bear down heaviest on poor women, and she did. . . Read the rest of this entry »



by Phil Duncan

Radio New Zealand this morning reported on a two-hour session in which Helen Clark faced questioning at the United Nations in relation to her bid to become secretary-general of the imperialist institution.

Amusingly, Clark took exception to the suggestion by one questioner – the obviously insightful representative of St Vincent and the Grenadines – that she is “the establishment candidate”.

Like the consummate cynical and dishonest bourgeois politician she became decades ago, Clark claimed, “”I have never been an establishment candidate for anything. . .  I have come from the outside of everything I have done. . .”

She so long ago lost the ability to tell the difference between fact and fiction, truth and lie, that she also declared during the session: “I come forward because the government of New Zealand believes I am the best person for the job and I come forward with the full support of the government and parliament of New Zealand.”

Ah, so she’s the anti-establishment/’outsider’ candidate supported by John Key and Read the rest of this entry »