A Rebel’s guide to Eleanor Marx

A Rebel's Guide to Eleanor MarxA Rebel’s Guide to Eleanor Marx, by Siobhan Brown

Reviewed by Gowan James Ditchburn

“Eleanor Marx saw an alternative: a class that organised across borders, just as the rich do. She was a champion of the oppressed who linked the everyday struggles to a big vision. Our task remains the same.” These are the concluding lines of Siobhan Brown’s short book on Eleanor Marx, and for those of us that fight for a better world they hold true, our task remains the same.

Brown makes it clear that the focus of this book is not the personal life of Eleanor Marx, the focus of so many biographies which overlook the importance of her legacy. This book shines a spotlight on Eleanor’s work at the centre of a powerful trade union movement and her struggle for the rights of the oppressed. This it does amazingly well. Despite the fact the book is only 55 pages long and can fit in your pocket, Brown is able to examine the political context as well as the actions of Eleanor herself. This all important context is key to understanding the contributions of Eleanor Marx to the various struggles examined in the book and for understanding her legacy. [Read more…]

Rediscovering the 1949 Carpenters’ Strike

Fighting Back CoverThe following was delivered as a talk at the International Socialism Day School 2013 by Kevin Hodder.

The 151 day waterfront lockout, and its eventual defeat, of militant workers is legendary, and widely recognised as the beginning of the end for one period of union militancy in New Zealand. Its story is widely known in political circles.

The 1949 Auckland Carpenters struggle, an epic battle prefiguring the 1951 dispute in many ways, has been almost completely hidden from history. It is an important part of New Zealand labour history, and yet its story – and its political lessons – are almost impossible to find out about now.

I had never heard of this struggle, or even of this union, prior to being asked to look into this particular dispute. It was, then, to my great surprise to discover that what happened in 1949 would easily be considered one of the defining struggles of New Zealand unions in the ongoing fight between labour and capital, between workers and bosses. [Read more…]

The Fire Last Time: The Rise of Class Struggle and Progressive Social Movements in Aotearoa, 1968-1977.

“A dramatic upsurge in working class struggle, surpassing in magnitude the rise of the Red Feds from 1908 to 1913 and the 1951 Waterfront Lockout, took place in New Zealand from the Arbitration Court’s nil general wage order in June 1968 to the union movement’s defeat of the Muldoon Government’s attempted wage freeze in 1976.

The pamphlet describes and analyses these struggles and their impact on progressive social movements, particularly the anti-war, women’s liberation, and Maori protest movements.”

[Read more…]

The Significance of the 1912 Waihi Strike

This year marks the centenary of the 1912 Waihi miners’ strike, one of the most important – and violently contested – strikes in New Zealand history. Frederick Evans was matyred; political ideas and organisational questions clarified; and the role and force of the state made clear. The strike offers many lessons for today.

To mark the occasion, we have published a new pamphlet, The Significance of the 1912 Waihi Strike. This pamphlet aims to introduce the story of the strike to a new generation of unionists and activists, and to draw out its political significance.

You can buy a copy from our branches or you can order copies for $5 by emailing contact@iso.org.nz or by writing to ISO, PO Box 6157, Dunedin. You can also contact us by phone, either text or ring 022 312 8012.

The Significance of the Waihi Strike
by Martin Gregory
International Socialist Organisation
(ISBN 978-0-473-22214-7)

He pokeke uenuku i tu ai: the evolution of contemporary Maori protest

“Historically, the intensity and momentum of Maori political activism has never been consistent. Upturns in protest activity are followed by downturns in struggle and vice versa. The 1970s were witness to a dramatic upsurge in Maori activism which had a profound effect on New Zealand Society.

The political turbulence created in the wake of the 1975 land march on parliament, Bastion Point, Raglan and the regular protests at Waitangi, once again revealed the exploitative and oppressive foundations on which capitalism had been established in Aotearoa.”

This article, written by a member of the International Socialist Organisation, Evan Te Ahu Poata-Smith, in the 1990s is a useful resource for activists today. We are committed to producing and distributing quality material that arms activists with the knowledge we need to take into the struggles of the future.

[Read more…]

Students and the Education Factory

This is a must read pamphlet for any activist interested in student politics today. It covers a range of topics related to tertiary education like why we should campaign for free education and the role of the University in modern capitalism.

Most importantly the pamphlet is a history of the student movement in the 1990s and early 2000s. This was when there was a massive student movement in Aotearoa/New Zealand that involved mass protest and occupations. While our rulers would rather us forget this movement because it stopped the worst of the attacks on students. It won interest free student loans and caps on course fees, two concessions that mean education is far cheaper today than what it could have been.

[Read more…]