The Chinese were the people most discriminated against in New Zealand society in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The formal, legal discrimination was centred on immigration controls which restricted entry in general for Chinese and which also imposed a substantial poll tax on Chinese migrants.

The White New Zealand policy culminated in 1920 with legislation that passed control of Chinese immigration into the hands of a government minister.  At this point Chinese migration was pretty much halted altogether.

Support for these racist immigration controls united Tory-style traditional conservatives, liberals, feminists, a layer of Maori leaders, the ‘militant’ leaders of the Labour Party and ‘moderate’ elements atop the overall labour movement.

Below are the initial four articles we’ve stuck up on the White New Zealand policy and the theoretical tools for analysing it.  We’ll be looking at the development of the policy in the 1890s and first two decades of the twentieth century in future feature articles.

Written in 1997: Arrested Development: the historiography of White New Zealand

Written in 1997: Analysing the White New Zealand policy: developing a theoretical framework

Written in 1997-98: Colonial social relations, the Chinese and the beginnings of New Zealand nationalist discourse

Written in 1998: Racialisation, subordination and the first exclusionary legislation

Mideast-Jordan-Syria_Horo-e1363418109868Below are the key pieces we have put up on Syria.  It’s important that progressive people in New Zealand gain familiarity with the background in Syria and Iraq in order to organise effectively against NZ state intervention in this part of the world.

Syria: background to the conflict

Tariq Ali on Syria 

The Syrian dilemma

Syria-Iraq: the making of a catastrophe

Syria: between imperialism and repression

Syria: civil war and the games of the world’s powers

Workers occupation, Pyeontaek, South Korea, 2009

Workers occupation, Pyeontaek, South Korea, 2009

One of the key themes of this blog since we began in June 2011 is the sorry state of workers’ resistance in New Zealand.  By-and-large workers here prefer to lay down and be walked over than to stand up and fight.  Announcements of workplace closures are more likely to be met with tears and counselling than with “No, we’re not accepting this shite”.  It is like two generations have been enfeebled.

It doesn’t have to be like this.  There are all kinds of ways of fighting back.  Closure threats, for instance, can be met with occupations.  Occupations challenge the property rights of bosses.  Occupying means workers – the people who have created the new, expanded value from which profit comes – asserting their right to work.  In effect, it is saying “We produce the wealth, we don’t recognise your ‘right’ to take away our jobs and income; given that you obviously can’t run the workplace, we will.”  Occupations are a much more advanced form of struggle than strikes because, instead of just going home, or standing around outside the workplace, we are inside and running it.

Occupations become schools for workers’ control and workers’ management of workplaces and, if undertaken across the society, for a new form of society altogether.  One in which those who produce the wealth own and control the means of production, along with developing new means of distribution and exchange.

Occupations help transform workers’ sense of their own capabilities and their political consciousness.

Below are just a handful of examples of workers’ occupations, from Dublin to Sydney to Buenos Aires to Thessalonika.

Workers occupy Paris Bakery, Moore St, Dublin
When workers occupied – the Cockatoo Island occupation of 1989

Factory takeover in Argentina sees discussions on workers power, women’s liberation
Greek lessons: workers occupy factory, continue production
Video on the struggle
Greek factory: “the machines of self-management have been turned on”
Workers’ self-management only solution: interview with spokesperson for the occupation


jewish-dissent-jewish-repression-300 (1)Israeli intransigence seems to be increasingly undermining those supporting a two-state ‘solution’ to the Palestinian liberation struggle.

However, there are also differences among those who oppose the existence of Israel.  One of the most interesting debates has been between two Marxists in Britain with long records of organising in support of the Palestinian cause and against the Israeli state: Moshe Machover, a veteran Israeli Marxist and a founder of the Israeli Socialist Organisation (ISO) in the early 1960s, and Tony Greenstein, a longtime solidarity activist and veteran working class fighter.

We’ve run some of the material from this (fairly comradely) ongoing debate on Redline.

Here’s Tony’s main piece: Israel, Palestine: the one-state solution and the issue of Israeli-Jewish nationhood

Here’s a couple of interesting pieces by Moshe about the problems Zionism is having:

Zionism’s ongoing quest for legitimacy

Does Israel have a future?

We also have a much larger selection of articles on Palestine at

and a substantial number of articles on the PFLP:

(Obviously many articles turn up in our Israel, Palestine and PFLP categories)

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Zionist campaign to prevent Leila Khaled speaking tour of South Africa has failed miserably

by Susanne Kemp

Back in the days when apartheid reigned in South Africa, there were close ties between the racist regime and Israel.  At a time when South Africa was increasingly isolated as a pariah state, they could always rely on Israel for support, including selling them arms to keep down the black population, occupy Namibia and invade Angola.

These links have somewhat come back to bite the Zionist state over the past 20 years since the end of formal apartheid.  The Palestinians and those in South Africa fighting apartheid identified and solidarised with each other’s causes, so the end of apartheid was not good news for Israel.  Things got worse as prominent black activists who helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa have continued to identify with the Palestinian cause.  Indeed, support for the Palestinian cause is especially strong in South Africa.  For instance, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to oppose Israeli assaults on Gaza.

A recent development which has particularly got up the Israeli elite’s nose is the speaking tour of South Africa which Palestinian revolutionary icon Leila Khaled, a member of the central leadership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, begins tomorrow (February 5).  Leila is the guest of BDS South Africa, the South African section of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and will be speaking in eight cities there over ten days.

The Israelis and their local hacks have Read the rest of this entry »


by Kenan Malik

There is a terrible irony in Israel’s current assault on Gaza. More than 200 Palestinians have died in an onslaught supposedly aimed at weakening Hamas and degrading its capacity to fire rockets into Israel. It was Israel itself, however, that helped Hamas to power in Gaza. For more than thirty years,from the 1960s to the 1990s, successive Israeli governments viewed radical Islamism as a useful tool with which to counter the influence of the secular Palestine Liberation Organization (of which Yasser Arafat’s Fatah was the principal component) and to sow discord within Palestinian ranks.

The Gaza strip came under Israeli occupation in 1967, after the Six Day War. Israel routed the Arab armies ranged against it and wrested control of the West Bank from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria and Gaza from Egypt. The PLO, which had been established in 1964, proved to be a much more durable opponent than had the Arab armies. It launched an armed struggle and a terrorist campaign against Israel, in the name of Palestinian self-determination. To weaken the PLO, a staunchly secular nationalist organization, Israel encouraged the Muslim Brotherhood to set up in the Occupied Territories.

The Muslim Brotherhood had been founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna to reclaim Islam’s political dimension lost with the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate in the wake of the First World War. “Allah is our objective,” the Brotherhood declared in its founding statement. “The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

Under the authoritarian rule of Read the rest of this entry »


by Louis Proyect

Selma, the stunning new film based on Paul Webb’s screenplay and directed by the previously unheralded African-American Ava DuVernay, makes for an interesting side-by-side comparison with Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln. Both films revolve around the circumstances attending the passage of key legislation affecting Black America: in the first instance, the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery and in the second the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that sealed the doom of Jim Crow, a legacy of white America’s abandonment of Reconstruction.

Selma, however, has exactly what Lincoln lacked, namely the agency of Black self-emancipation dramatized by the Selma to Montgomery march. If Lincoln was seen as a wise benefactor of a sidelined Black population whose leaders like Frederick Douglass failed to materialize on screen, the prime mover in Selma is Martin Luther King Jr. who is played to perfection by David Oyelowo, the actor last seen as a cartoon version of a Black Panther member in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. He is far better served in this new film.

Both films pay close attention to period detail and use the speeches that are part of the backbone of American progressive politics, including Lincoln’s and LBJ’s. It is of some significance that the speeches given by King in Selma are only approximations of what he said in (the town) since the King estate refused to allow the speeches to be used by DuVernay. So she wrote the words herself after steeping herself in the original for months.

And why did the King estate refuse to grant permission? Once again there is a Spielberg angle. Around the same time that Lee Daniels was trying to get The Butler made, he had an option to make Selma using Paul Webb’s screenplay. Since there was not enough money to make both films, he went with The Butler. We benefit from his decision since I am afraid that Daniels’ penchant for melodrama might have led to cartoonish results.

After Daniels abandoned Selma, Spielberg purchased the rights to King’s speeches in 2009 with the intention of producing his own film. One can easily imagine such a film making Lyndon Johnson another Lincolnesque figure, a Great Man of history challenging the forces of Deep South reaction with Black people an afterthought. Fortunately, DuVernay’s film is the one that got made.

The four main characters in the film are LBJ, George Wallace, MLK Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Tom Wilkinson and Tim Roth, two British actors who most often are cast as Americans, play Johnson and Wallace respectively. DuVernay made the wise decision to have them avoid impersonating their characters but focus more on revealing their Read the rest of this entry »