Marx and the Lassalleans

Lassalle2The following was presented as a talk at Marxism 2013 in Melbourne

Who today has even heard of Ferdinand Lassalle? Who cares about Marx’s battles with his followers? Lassalle’s writings are out of print, and his collections sit gathering dust in the stacks and back-rooms of libraries. Picking over these old quarrels seems, at first, like conforming to the clichéd image of the troublesome but scholastic and irrelevant Marxist, fighting not just last century’s battles but also throwing in one from the century before that for good measure.

There is, to be sure, a great distance between Lassalle’s world and our own. He was active in a time when Europe was still dominated by powerful monarchies, when the capitalist class and the old feudal and aristocratic order still battled for power over much of the continent. His was an era of absolutism, and a time when the peasantry were still a major social force. Modern Germany did not yet exist. [Read more…]

Oppose attacks on the disability benefit

Members of Disabled People Against Cuts protest in Britain

Members of Disabled People Against Cuts protest in Britain

This year the National government will be implementing changes to the disability benefit based on a similar system being used in the UK.

The welfare reforms in 2008 in the UK brought in a work capability assessment. A healthcare company is contracted to do these assessments. This company is currently Atos and its performance in this regard has been heavily criticised by disabled people’s organisations, as well as individuals, MPs, the Commons Select Committee for Work and Pensions, and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. [Read more…]

The Labour leadership battle


From the outset of last year’s leadership contest Shearer was the choice of the capitalist class to take over from Phil Goff. There was a reason for that; Shearer was distinctly the right-wing candidate who signalled his willingness to jettison left-wing policies that Labour had adopted for the General Election. Shearer was the puppet of the mass-media. Shearer supporters wax indignant at the claim there is a left-right split in the leadership struggle, but what else are we to make of Shearer’s speeches attacking sickness beneficiaries and the support he’s received – and is receiving – from the right of the parliamentary party?

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Review: We Will Work With You!

This is a wonderful exhibition, and is bound to fascinate every left-wing person interested in art and design, or just curious to see some of the history of the many social and political struggles from the past decades in Wellington.

Some of the work and originality that the work building activist campaigns demands – in designing leaflets, getting out posters, thinking up slogans and songs – gives us just a little glimpse of the enormous wasted  creativity of working people, creativity too often smothered or ignored in jobs where people are just ‘human resources’ towards profits.

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What’s wrong with lesser evilism

Those who advocate a vote for the “lesser evil” hope to defeat the “greater evil” of the right wing–but they enable the Democrats to shift further right themselves.


DOES BARACK Obama deserve your vote? That’s the question people on the left should be asking as Election Day approaches.

When you consider Obama’s record after four years in office–a multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street, the continuing “war on terror,” more civil liberties shredded, the Employee Free Choice Act abandoned, deportations on the rise, a deepening assault on public schools–the answer has to be no. The list of broken promises and betrayed hopes goes on and on, outweighing anything that could be described as progress.

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National’s war on the poor

This article will be focusing on cutbacks to Welfare and what they mean in the context of the social, political and economic environment of New Zelaand. Firstly I will talk briefly about recent benefit history. Then I will talk about what the current welfare reforms are and some of the ruling classes myths to justify them. Then I will discuss how and why we should stop them.

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Marching for Marriage Equality

At least a thousand people showed out today to support a bill being introduced to parliament today, which would amend the Marriage Act to allow marriage between same sex couples. While many would argue that marriage is an institution best avoided, that doesn’t change the fact that it is a right, with many associated legal benefits, denied to many couples simply because they are of the same gender.

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What’s abhorrent? John Key, whaling, and racism

John Key is engaging in a bout of populist moralising, describing killing whales as ‘abhorrent’ in response to South Korea’s indication that they may resume whaling. The hypocrisy is staggering – this same week National has announced further concessions to New Zealand’s dirty and polluting farming industry. If the concept of killing whales is ‘abhorrent’, what about farming practices that contribute to the loss of ecosystems that threaten endangered species in New Zealand? Since it is largely Pakeha capitalists in New Zealand that reap the profits farming they do not criticise.

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Protest Report: Whose Port? Our Port!

“There must be over five thousand people here!” – that’s the text I got from Gerry Cotterell, a TEU member I’d arranged to meet today, and he was right. We came in our thousands to show our support for striking Maritime Union members. Firefighters, teachers, public servants, supermarket workers: the sea of banners and flags showed the union movement out in support of the wharfies. And, as well as these, there were the flags of Australian and US wharfies’ unions too, the brothers and sisters of MUNZ joining the struggle.

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From Land Wars to Union Battles!

Ka whawhai tonu matou, Ake! Ake! Ake!: Rewi Maniapoto’s words from the Waikato Wars of the 1860s rang through the twentieth century and into our own. Maori resistance to colonisation and land theft has never ended and the Maori struggle for self-determination has continued across the generations.

[Read more…]