World War One: the Fight against Conscription

Maoriland WorkerAmidst all the patriotic furor this centenary, the real history of the war is all too easily forgotten.  The government and the opposition alike cry crocodile tears for the fallen and mouth “Never again!”, while daisy cutters are dropped on Afghanistan and the history books are (re)re-written.

In high-school classrooms and history-books, we are taught a version of the war in which a well-fed, well-bred (and mostly white) nation proudly sacrifices its sons for the lofty ideals of “God, King and Country”.  The little mention made of wartime dissent is limited to a few footnotes about ‘conscientious objectors’ who are presented as a tiny minority of isolated idealists, and perhaps a few comments on the rising cost of living.

This version of history was written by the ruling class, for the working class, to create a placid and pliant society that allows the prosecution of future wars.  The real history of the war is somewhat different.  In New Zealand, there was a great movement against the continued prosecution of the war, and for peace.  It wasn’t a minority, and it wasn’t isolated.  Hundreds were jailed, and thousands condemned the war in public meetings, in their workplaces, and on the streets.  This article tells just part of that story, the fight against conscription. [Read more...]

The Second Chinese Revolution 1925-27

Hong Workers Strike in 1925The Second Chinese Revolution of 1925-27 was a turning point in world history. Consider the world situation around 1924-1925. In Europe the revolutionary wave that accompanied the end of the First World War had exhausted itself to leave the Russian Revolution isolated. In Germany the revolutionary process from 1918 to 1923 had been halted and capitalism temporarily stabilised by the Social Democrats.

The short-lived Hungarian Soviet government had fallen in 1919. In Italy the ‘Biennio Rosso’, the two red years of 1919-1920, had given way to reaction and the accession to power by Mussolini. In Poland reaction set in and Marshall Pilsudski would install himself as dictator in 1926.

Hope for the spread of the world revolution, and relief to the beleaguered Soviet Union, now lay in the east, in the struggle against imperialism, especially in China.  These hopes were not realised. The defeat of the Second Chinese Revolution had devastating consequences that defined the dark days of the 1930s. [Read more...]

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