tumblr_od5hb3ptq31vftr3oo1_400by The Spark

Following a call for a nationwide strike of prisoners, inmates in at least 29 prisons in 12 states have launched strikes, involving more than 24,000 prisoners. The prisoners are now fighting against awful work conditions in prisons, what they correctly call “modern day slavery.” It is forced labor for little or no pay.

This work is mandatory. If the prisoner refuses to work, he or she can be punished, such as, by solitary confinement or cancellation of visitation rights. Inmates in state and federal prisons do many different types of work, including maintenance, cleaning, kitchen duties, farm work, stuffing shelves in stores and warehouses, and manufacturing license plates, clothing, electronics and army hats, etc.

Some states, including Texas, Arkansas, and Georgia, do not pay inmates for prison labor at all. In other states, the pay to the inmates is usually close to nothing, between 12 and 40 cents an hour.

Some inmates are engaged in work programs, such as the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (known as UNICOR). The Federal Bureau of Prisons runs UNICOR like a company that supplies cheap labor to Read the rest of this entry »

For the Working Class Party, Sam Johnson, Mary Anne Hering, Gary Walkowicz

For the Working Class Party, Sam Johnson, Mary Anne Hering, Gary Walkowicz

A number of left groups in the United States ran campaigns in the recent US elections.  Probably the most successful was a very localised effort in Michigan where a new party, the Working Class Party, succeeded in getting on the ballot and winning tens of thousands of votes.

The Working Class Party is only a few months old and has been formed to raise the need for workers to build their own political party totally independent from the Democrats and Republicans.

The following statement was released by the WCP last weekend:

“Vote totals are in for the Working Class Party. It’s not a spectacular vote, but it shows that a part of the working class responded to the main axis of our campaign: that the working class needs its own party.

“Mary Anne Hering, candidate for State Board of Education, had 224,122 votes statewide, the highest vote of any minor party candidate for a state-wide position. Mary Anne’s votes gave her 2.66% of the vote. Her votes enable our new party to keep ballot status for future elections. (Her total was almost 14 times the requirement of 16,491.)

“Gary Walkowicz, candidate for U.S. Congress, Michigan District 12, had 9,183 votes, with 3.81% of the vote in Wayne County’s part of the district, and 1.21% in Washtenaw County.

“Sam Johnson, candidate for U.S. Congress, District 13, which covers part of Detroit and part of Wayne County, had 8,778 votes, or 3.43% of the vote.

“The largest number of our votes came from the big working class Read the rest of this entry »

Late August, Indian workers preparing for general strike, in  Sept;  160 million workers went on strike.

Late August, Indian workers preparing for general strike, in Sept; 160 million workers went on strike.

by Susil Gupta, 17 November 2016

I was warned that my controversial article (here) would raise some hackles but, to be truthful, I had hoped for some intelligent counter-blasts. 

Orwell once said that a Communist was “part gramophone, part gangster.” My old comrade Russell is not a gangster, but he is certainly all gramophone. Since his post is so paradigmatic of the rotting or ossified nature of Leftist western thinking, it is worth taking up his post (here) in detail. 

First, note that Russell does not engage with any point made in my article.  Like a tiresome Jehova’s Witness on your doorstep, he just repeats the same old religion.  Let’s take point by point. 

“I hadn’t realised you guys were so down on the metropolitan working classes!”

By ‘metropolitan’ Russell means ‘Western’, a usage that goes back to the 1960s where his thinking is firmly and obdurately stuck. In those distant times there were few non-western cities with a population of more than a million. As I have pointed out on this blog, (https://rdln.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/imperialism-study-group-some-notes-on-the-changing-global-working-class/), China now has 105 cities with more than a million inhabitants, and by 2030 will have 148 million-people cities. Shanghai alone has 25 million inhabitants, which is about as ‘metropolitan’ as it gets. India has 58, and Latin America has 67. The EU has 34 such urban areas and the US 45. In China and many other Asian countries there are massive industrial areas and factories that have no parallel in the West. 

Russell, and much of the old Western Left, still seem to labour under the self-serving illusion that billions of people in the global ‘South’ live in villages, work in paddy fields, survive on a daily bowl of rice, and are incapable, poor things, of organised radical politics. What else explains such an obstinate refusal to face reality?  Read the rest of this entry »

The logic of capitalism - an unelected government

The logic of capitalism – an unelected government

by Susanne Kemp

The right like to hold up the United States as the model capitalist democracy.  Of course, it is no such thing.  A third of the population in the southern states were slaves until only 150 years ago.  Women had to struggle for 70 years to get the right to vote.  When black males got the right to vote it was only after a brutal civil war and that right, along with many other rights, were lost within the several decades following that war and not regained until the 1950s and 1960s.  And that took a mass political struggle too.

In January 2017 a man who came second in the presidential vote will be made president and a government appointed by him – and elected by no-one – will be sworn in.  The margin by which Donald Trump was beaten by Hillary Clinton was, on election night, about 200,000.  It is now about 1,100,000 and growing.

Clinton beat Trump by more votes than Kennedy beat Nixon in 1960 to become president.  By more votes than Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey in 1968 to become president.  Trump lost the vote, Clinton won.  But Trump is the president-elect.

In the United States the president appoints the Read the rest of this entry »

Workers march in Nantes, May 17, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Workers march in Nantes, May 17, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

While in NZ, the working class remains doggedly, if not perversely, determined not to fight, France has seen months of mobilisations of workers against the new labour law being driven through by the Socialist Party regime.  The SP is the French equivalent of the NZ Labour Party.  The Labourites in France are essentially attempting to impose a deregulation of the labour market.

by Patrick Le Moal[1]

On September 15, 2016, between 100,000 and 150,000 demonstrators participated in every major city in the fourteenth national day of action. This participation, even reduced, shows that the rejection of the labour law and its world remains intact, even after the adoption of the law on July 21, and can still mobilize in the streets teams of combative activists, against the government and the whole political system. Neither the terrorist attacks of the summer, nor the media coverage of the beginning of the presidential campaign have succeeded in preventing this resurgence after the holiday months. It appears today to be the end of the wave of mobilization that started in February by signing the online petition against the law, which registered a million signatures in two weeks. But let us not be in such a hurry to inter such a wave, which can reappear in other forms, given the magnitude of the social and political crisis. Because the radicalization is a response to the deepening of the neoliberal and authoritarian counter-reform, and to the inability of mainstream parties to offer perspectives to those below.[2]

The stakes of the labour law for the bourgeoisie

The mobilization against the labour law came up against a major project for the government and the bourgeoisie, who want to destroy most of the social advances that are still present in the labour code, acquired primarily during the half-century from 1936 to 1986. The objective is to align French labour law with that of the other European countries, something that the mobilizations of the last 30 years, although they did not lead to great victories, have prevented for the moment. They now want to impose a deregulation of the labour market similar to that which exists in the other major European countries.

So, much more than a bill, it is a central confrontation between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. To win, you need a massive and determined mobilization, one that can go all the way and establish a relationship of forces and balance of power such that they have no other solution than to yield, or lose much more.

Breaks with the PS

The mobilization marked a break of a part of the popular classes with the Socialist Party (PS) and its government, and the power of the movement shook Read the rest of this entry »

Beneath a brief burst of left rhetoric, Cunliffe continued the same Labour politics, adding in a new burst of anti-Chinese racism

Beneath a brief little flourish of left rhetoric, Cunliffe continued the same Labour politics, adding in a new burst of anti-Chinese racism

At the start of this month David Cunliffe announced he would be leaving politics next year and not standing again for Labour.  Cunliffe briefly led the Labour Party (September 2013-2014).

From the economic right of the party Cunliffe strangely excited elements of the New Zealand left in his campaign for the leadership in 2013, by pretending to have moved left.  It was perhaps a sign of the endless capacity for gullibility among chunks of the left that his left feint was taken as good coin.

At Redline we pointed out that he was a fraud and would not be leading the Labour Party left.  Indeed, once he secured the leadership, Cunliffe’s most notable policy was scapegoating Chinese for pushing up house prices.  This odious and slimy politician’s left fan club went suddenly quiet, although really they should have seen it coming – it’s not like anyone has any reason to be naive about Labour and Labour politicians after all the experience we’ve had of them.

Cunliffe is going back to business consultancy, the work he did in the several years before entering parliament (he has also been a diplomat).

Below are pieces we wrote about Cunliffe at the time of his leadership campaign:

David Cunliffe, Richie McCaw and the ISO

Poems by and about David Cunliffe

Labour’s leadership contest: illusions and confusions on the left

by Susil Gupta

This article is reprinted from Tony Norfield’s excellent blog  economics of imperialism

I did not think that Trump could win the US election because an electoral base made up of the ‘disgruntled and angry white working classes’ is too narrow. But it is now obvious that Trump has wider popular support. Clinton did gain more of the popular votes by a slim margin, but there is no hiding the significance of Trump’s victory.GOP 2016 Debate

So, some thoughts.

A Trump presidency will not mean immediate significant changes on the world stage. The imperialist governance of the world is grounded on the Atlantic agreement, the order based on the US-UK-EU. But these are hard times. An unresolvable crisis, which makes each component of this triptych look more narrowly to its own domestic interests, and more watchful of the clamour of its own populations – particularly since none of the three is capable of providing a solution, or even the illusion of one. The British Brexit, and now the American ‘Brexit’ which Trump represents, will however provoke a slow disintegration of the dominant Anglosphere. Read the rest of this entry »