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Socialist Worker (NZ)

Trade unions and New Zealand’s economic crisis

By Grant Brookes

Unity, May 2009 -- Comparisons now abound between the global economic crisis of 2009 and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Naturally, there are similarities and differences. The following bleak assessment of the role of trade unions in the early 1930s comes from the best-known book by one of New Zealand’s foremost social historians of the 20th century:

New Zealand: Responding to the crisis -- Broad left unity to mobilise masses of people

By Vaughan Gunson

Unity, May 2009 -- Facing the left today are incredible challenges. The global economic meltdown, combined with the nightmare scenarios of runaway climate change and resource depletion, looms as a human disaster of an unimaginable scale.

The question we are all asking ourselves: is how can we organise ourselves and grassroots people into a movement that has the strength and vision to set the world on a different course?

Over the last decade Socialist Worker-New Zealand, a small Marxist organisation, has moved towards the realisation that we need to be building alongside other activists a broad left party which has the breadth and reach to give leadership to masses of people. And that we need to begin now, not later.

Left activists discuss solutions at World at a Crossroads international socialism conference

Photos by Alex Bainbridge. Individual pictures can be viewed here.

By Simon Butler

Sydney -- April 18, 2009 -- Green Left Weekly -- Several participants at the World at a Crossroads conference, held in Sydney on April 10-12, remarked that the conference could not have been better named.

As the world economy lurches into a deep recession, and the looming climate emergency reaches a crisis point, the world truly is at a crossroads. The future will be decided in the conflict between the greedy capitalist elites and those around the world fighting for a far better world — a world free of racism, war and environmental plunder.

`Tipping point' in New Zealand politics at the grassroots: the Residents Action Movement

The Residents Action Movement (or RAM) is a left-wing local government electoral ticket in the Auckland Regional Council of New Zealand's largest city. RAM is in the process of becoming a national-level political party to contest the 2008 elections. RAM can be characterised as as broad left coalition, stretching from social liberals, community activists and former National Party members to social democrats, democratic socialists and left-wing radicals. Its chairperson is currently Grant Morgan, who is also a leading member of Socialist Worker (Aotearoa).

This interview with Grant Morgan, Daphne Lawless (a RAM candidate in last year's Auckland Regional Council election and is a current member of the RAM executive) and Oliver Woods, RAM co-organiser, was recorded by telephone on May 1, 2008, and broadcast by LeftCast.

History calls for a broad left party

By Vaughan Gunson and Grant Morgan -- March 2, 2008 -- In 2006, the neoliberal maniacs at the World Bank ranked New Zealand as No.1 in the world for doing business, out of 200 countries surveyed. And a recent government report titled Wealth Disparities in New Zealand showed that 95% of New Zealand’s net wealth is owned by half the population. The other half is left with the crumbs -- a mere 5% of the country's wealth. Two decades of neoliberal polices have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, increasing the rage, frustration and alienation at the base of New Zealand society.

In recent years Socialist Worker-New Zealand (SW-NZ) has recognised that this discontent is being combined with signs of self-activity among grassroots people, which is causing them to be more open to alternative political ideas. The rise of a global social justice movement has been influential. There have been bursts of union militancy, along with mass movements against imperial wars, GE foods and government injustices against Maori [New Zealand’s indigenous people]. In combination this points towards a political stirring at the grassroots of New Zealand society which socialists must relate to.

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