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Greek election a blow to austerity

9 Feb

By Mike Treen, Unite National Director

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

The SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) election in Greece has opened up enormous opportunities to turn the tide against the anti-working class austerity policies that have been imposed in that country above all but also elsewhere in Europe. This small European country of less than 12 million people is becoming a world leader.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, left, with Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the leftwing Podemos party in Spain

Following the world recession of 2008-10 the capitalist institutions dubbed “The Troika” (The European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) used the crisis to impose austerity policies on all European countries as a condition of receiving the financial support they needed to “save” the banking system of each country and prevent a further decent into chaos. Essentially the bank debts were taken over by the the public and made a public liability. Servicing the increased public debts of course required cuts in other government expenditures. Austerity became the order of the day. Europe has been mired in economic stagnation virtually ever since.

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Bolivia, South Africa and Cuba – three victories for the left & labour movements

9 Jan


“Cuban Five” together again after final three released

Three events in December mark high points for the international socialist and working class movement in the struggle to free humanity from the interlinked scourges of capitalism and climate change.

Firstly we have the leadership shown by President of Bolivia Evo Morale’s speech to the COP20 summit on climate change in Lima, Peru. He explained clearly that environmental destruction is a result of the capitalist system when he declared: “Sisters and brothers, we cannot have a climate agreement that condemns Mother Earth and humanity to death in order to favour Capital, the enrichment of a few and predatory consumerist growth. We are here to develop a climate agreement for life, and not for business and capitalist commercialism.”

The COP20 declaration at the end of the summit was condemned by the climate justice movement as failing humanity and the planet. Immediately following the COP20 gathering Bolivia and it’s allies in ALBA – the Bolivarian Alliance for the peoples of Our America – Trade Treaty of the Peoples (ALBA-TCP)[1] met in Havana for a summit.

Addressing the ALBA Summit in Havana, Evo Morales proposed that “faced with the failure in Lima” ALBA’s environment minsters should work to organise a “world encounter of social movements” that would develop “a proposal to save life and humanity.” This proposal was endorsed and is a profound and radical step that will energise the climate justice movement internationally. It continues Bolivia’s leadership role on this question over the past decade.

The second important development is is the declaration by a united front of organisations brought together by the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA). In the words of the final declaration:

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The Ebola crisis, capitalism and the Cuban medical revolution

25 Nov

Ebola emerged nearly 40 years ago. Why are clinicians still empty-handed, with no vaccines and no cure? Because Ebola has been, historically, geographically confined to poor African nations. The R&D incentive is virtually non-existent. A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay.” World Health Organisation Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan

By Mike Treen, Unite Union National Director

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

The outbreak of an Ebola epidemic in West Africa over 2014 has exposed the collapse of public health systems in many African countries affected and the paralysis of the wealthy West to be able to mount a response in time to prevent the outbreak killing tens of thousands and possibly millions.

In contrast revolutionary Cuba and its medical internationalism has emerged as an example to the world of what is possible when ethics replaces cold calculation.  The world has been forced to acknowledge a debt to that small island nation of just 11.2 million people who are now the front guard of the fight to stop the spread of the virus.

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Continuing crises are what this system is about

10 Nov

By Mike Treen, Unite Union National Director

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

The decision of the US Federal Reserve to end its programme of “Quantitative Easing” signals a desire for a return to monetary “normalcy” in capitalist policy circles. The announcement was made on October 29, the anniversary of the 1929 crash on Wall Street—triggered by a previous series of monetary tightening measures by the U.S. central bank that ushered in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

But the world capitalist economy today stands at a critical juncture that is far from normal.

Stagnation is the order of the day across Europe. Output remains two percent below the peak reached in 2008 before the financial crisis and great world recession. Investment remains 15 percent below 2008 levels. The European central banks and governments are now instituting their own forms of monetary loosening after years of austerity in an attempt to jump-start the economy and escape a deflationary spiral. A similar picture exists in Japan.

A classic crisis of overproduction

The world economic crisis of 2007-09, a classical capitalist crisis of overproduction, was by far the worst since the crisis 1929-32. Like all such crises it was preceded by an explosive growth in credit as the capitalists sought to escape the basic laws of economics and produce more commodities than the market could absorb. But in the end, interest and principal must be paid and when it cannot interest rates rise, the bubble bursts, credit contracts and the economy enters a new recession. Capitalism has had this process repeat itself regularly for nearly 200 years, and yet the pro-business economists and media commentators always seem surprised.

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Why workers need our own “foreign policy” based on solidarity

14 Oct

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By Mike Treen, Unite National Director

Reprinted from The Daily Blog

Working people in the advanced capitalist world should reject appeals by the rulers of their countries to support the foreign policy of “their” country.

Inevitably that foreign policy is simply a programme to advance the interests of the super wealthy owners of industry and services to grab the biggest possible share of the wealth available on the world market. They disguise their naked self interest with appeals to the so-called “national interest” with claims that we are fighting for lofty goals like “freedom and democracy”. We are even asked to wage war for these goals. Often it is the working people on both sides of these wars who are being shafted or killed. But inevitably a few years down the line we discover that it was all lies.

I want to touch on a few of these wars from my lifetime and the lies told to support them.

The New Zealand Army participated in the Vietnam war from 1965 to 1972 when the troops were withdrawn by the newly elected Labour government under Norm Kirk. The previous National Party Prime Minister Keith Holyoake had declared: “Whose will is to prevail in South Vietnam? The imposed will of the North Vietnamese communists and their agents, or the freely expressed will of the people of South Vietnam?” Every word was a lie. It was widely accepted that if the elections promised at the 1954 peace conference had been held the Viet Minh forces led by Ho Chi Minh would have won easily. Instead the US installed a puppet dictatorship in the South of extreme brutality. Twenty years later the US was forced to leave Vietnam, the southern dictatorship soon collapsed and the country was reunified. But Vietnam had suffered several million deaths and a legacy of destruction they still are recovering from today. The US lost 58,000 troops. NZ lost 38. Every one of the killed was murdered in defence of a world capitalist empire.

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The rich get richer….

3 Oct

By Mike Treen, Unite Union National Director

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman highlights the growing inequality in this article in the New York Times. The left wing slogan that the “the rich get richer” is a fact of almost perverse power. The most recent period of expansion in the USA the top 1% got 95% of the income gains. They did this after creating the crisis in the first place. So instead of being put in prison for fraud and negligence they continue to rob us blind.

It is little wonder that some of the 1% are beginning to worry that “the pitchforks are are going to come for us” as US entrepreneur Nick Hanauer wrote recently in Politico in an open letter to “my fellow zillinaires”.

table 1

table 2

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Tasks before left and labour movement

30 Sep

Unite cinema delegates like other workers were hoping for a change in government

By Mike Treen, Unite National Director

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

Anyone on the left would have been disappointed at the result of the election.

There was an opportunity to win, but that got lost through a combination of factors. There were tactical decisions made by Labour, the Greens and Internet-Mana that contributed to the defeat. Each party needs to have a discussion on what those were.

However, the defeat was the product of objective conditions in the first instance.

We had a unified right wing that knew the importance of strategic voting. National got two bonus MP’s in Epsom (Act Party) and Ohariu (United Future) and helped defeat Internet-Mana by urging a Labour vote in Te Tai Tokerau. John Key urged a vote for the Labour candidate to defeat Hone Harawira and so also stopped him bringing in at least one more left MP on the list.

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