by Daphna Whitmore

Dunedin hospital’s substandard food has come in for some well deserved criticism. At a protest outside the hospital Andrew Tait of the International Socialist Organisation argued that the public hospital was socialism in action, and he went on to call Britain’s National Health Service socialist:

https://iso.org.nz/2016/04/30/stop-the-slop-protest-at-dunedin-hospital/

There’s a lot that is good about the public health system in New Zealand, (excluding the hospital meals) but socialist it is not. Nor could it be. While we have a relatively well-funded public health system it follows a capitalist model adopted by most western countries.

First World countries maintain a centralised government-regulated and funded health-care system at the insistence of the public. It is also out of pragmatism. A public health system is more cost effective than America’s relatively decentralised private-sector system where hundreds of millions of dollars go on health lobbying rather than providing services. New Zealand, like many other western countries, has a large private health sector too, and it is in the business of making money. But that doesn’t make the public sector socialist; even the best health system in a capitalist country will not be socialist. Read the rest of this entry »

_89618677_8In the last NZ elections, most of us at Redline saw no point in voting.  We argued that there simply wasn’t anything to vote for and that non-voting at least indicated disillusionment with the system.  New Zealand is not the only place with falling voter turnout – indeed, it’s an international trend.  Ironically it is often accompanied by a greater number of political parties.  It is almost as if there is a new rule – the more political parties, the fewer the real choices.  Instead, we have a kind of tyranny of the centre.  In the article below prominent Irish republican figure Sean Bresnahan of the 1916 Societies look at last week’s elections for the Stormont Assembly, the body which pretends to act as a parliament for the northern state in Ireland.  He reflects on the low turnout there and the crisis of legitimacy it should herald for the Sinn Fein-Democratic Unionist Party regime there.  One positive from the election, not mentioned by Sean, is that two candidates from the leftist People Before Profits Alliance, were elected to the Assembly. 

by Sean Bresnahan

Following yesterday’s elections to Stormont, many reports, and indeed complaints, about low voter turnout are beginning to surface, with some arguing if you didn’t vote you have no right to complain and others suggesting voting should be mandatory and people compelled to vote or be fined. So much for free choice (as if one exists in the first place).

In my opinion a low turnout is a good thing. Were the turnout to fall below 50 percent then the Sinn Fein-DUP coalition could not claim a mandate for the austerity programme they are inflicting on our communities on behalf of their bosses in London. This is why I sat at home, as I will not allow my vote – not even were it to be spoiled – to legitimise the attacks they are perpetrating on working people.

While some claim it incredible that people complained but didn’t vote, for me what is incredible is that people still believe voting in a liberal democratic system can change anything of note. Maybe those who sat at home have realised this and thus refuse to participate in an organised farce, set up to secure consent for that which has not in fact been agreed to: austerity.

In reality, decisions are not taken within the outward framework of liberal democracy. They are reached and implemented elsewhere, with politicians thrust forward every so often as paid perjurers to Read the rest of this entry »

download (2)Today also marks the 35th anniversary of the death of Francis Hughes.

The legendary IRA Volunteer and freedom fighter died on May 12, 1981 after 59 days on hunger strike.

He was 25 years old.

 

images (3)Today marks the final executions by firing squad of leaders of the 1916 rebellion.  The final two of the Easter Proclamation signatories were executed 100 years ago today by British firing squad in the yard at Kilmainham Jail.  These were Sean Mac Diarmada, who was commander at the GPO and the great Marxist and revolutionary workers’ leader James Connolly who was in overall command of Dublin.

Connolly had been wounded in the fighting and the wound had turned gangrenous.  He couldn’t stand so was propped up in a chair and tied to it in order to be executed.

A doctor had said it was unlikely he would live more than a few days, but the British were keen that, rather than he die, they get to execute him.  Connolly’s execution was also called for by the leader of the Dublin capitalist class and prominent Irish Nationalist Party supporter, William Martin Murphy.

download (1)

Thomas Kent

images (2)Last week we started noting the 100th anniversary of the executions by British firing squad of leaders of the 1916 rebellion in Ireland.  Other things have intruded since then, so we got a bit behind.

Below are the next executions:

May 8, 1916: Eamonn Ceannt, Con Colbert, Sean Heuston, Michael Mallin

May 9: Thomas Kent (executed at Cork Detention Barracks)

An interesting comment by veteran Cork socialist-republican Jim Lane on facebook:

“. . . Thomas Kent (is sometimes referred to) as the Forgotten Volunteer. A more correct prefix would be an Ignored Volunteer. Ignored by those State Leaders who ignored the fact that he was buried down in a Cork prison yard and they not putting in much effort to locate his remains. It took nigh on 100 years to locate his remains. As for the people of Cork, and particularly the people of Fermoy and Castlelyons, they never Read the rest of this entry »

detroit-web

The decay of Detroit, once a key car-making city, is indicative of the decay of US capitalism and the absence of mass resistance to austerity

 

by The Spark (March 27, 2016)

The following text was adopted at a meeting of the Spark organization, a Marxist workers’ group in the United States, describing the situation in which their work is carried out.  People who think Bernie Sanders is some kind of genuine radical might consider his actual voting record, as noted in the piece below.  Unfortunately, Sanders’ record and his role as a Democrat hasn’t stopped sections of the US left actually joining in his campaign.

Two Terms in Office – Obama’s Record

Whatever hopes parts of the working class may have had when Barack Obama first took office in 2009, the situation of the laboring classes has not improved. Their standard of living continues to decline, while the share of the workforce employed is three and half percent lower than before “The Great Recession” began. The unemployed who found jobs were shunted into mostly marginal and poorly paid jobs, significantly worse on the whole than the jobs they lost.

Uber, with all its talk about “be your own boss, make your own hours,” is setting the new standard for jobs, taking us back to the early days of capitalism, rife with street peddlers, jobbers and home workers.

The situation is made worse by the increasing level of indebtedness of large layers of the working population – not only cars and new mortgages, but also student loans. Today, the average student with a loan owes at least $29,000 after four years at a public university, and $40,000 at the privately-run, for-profit “technical” schools, which target workers’ children. This level of debt is more than half again as much as it was only ten years ago.

The gap in wealth ownership, which began to grow in 1980, continued to widen all during the “Obama recovery.” In 2014, the richest 1% of the population owned 36.6% of the nation’s wealth, up 2.8% since 2008. Added together, the top 10% owned 75.2% of the nation’s wealth. In other words, less than 25% remained for everyone else. But the most significant part of this picture concerns the poorer half of the population, who owned just over 1% of the wealth in 2014, down from 2.5% in 2008.

This economic “recovery,” over which Obama has presided, has done little for anyone but the wealthy, and especially, the very wealthiest.

As for foreign policy, Obama has Read the rest of this entry »

download (1)by Michael Roberts

The latest economic data from the major capitalist economies do not make pretty reading.  The global slowdown, as measured in real GDP growth, is worsening.  The first reading for real GDP growth in the US, for the first quarter of 2016, delivered an annualised rise of just 0.5%, or 0.125% quarter over quarter.  If we compare the size of the US economy after taking into account changes in prices (inflation), with the first quarter of 2015, then the American economy is larger by just 1.9%.  That’s the slowest rate of expansion since early 2014. The US economy, the best of the major capitalist economies, is still just crawling along.

US real GDP growthThere was only one of the top seven capitalist economies (G7) apart from the US that was growing by more than 2% at the end of 2015.  It was the UK.  Now in the first quarter of 2016, the UK reported an expansion of just 0.4%, so that the British economy was larger by 2.1% compared to the first quarter of 2015.  And most forecasters are expecting that growth rate to slip below 2% yoy in the current quarter we are now in (April to June).

In the first quarter of 2016, the Eurozone group of economies grew faster than the US or the UK!  The Euro area rose 0.55% compared to 0.4% in the UK and just 0.125% in the US. The EU region as a whole rose 0.5%.  For the first time, Eurozone GDP in real terms has returned to its peak before the Great Recession – but three years after the UK and six years after the US!  Compared to this time last year, Eurozone real GDP is up 1.53%. However, Eurozone growth has also slowed from 1.58% yoy in Q3 2015 to 1.55% in Q4 2015 and now 1.53%. It’s just that the US and the UK economies have slowed even more.

EZ real GDP

Now readers of my blog will know ad nauseam that this rate of growth in the major economies is an indication that the world economy remains in what I call a Read the rest of this entry »


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