It is time to start making our own history again.

“Tomorrow the revolution will 'rise up again, clashing its weapons,' and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing: I was, I am, I shall be!” - Rosa Luxemburg

You will see little,  if any,  acknowledgment of May Day  in the corporate media  but neither is it of much interest to the Labour Party and the Council of Trade Unions .  There are no demonstrations and no marches. I imagine there might be a self-serving press release or two  floating around somewhere. Very few people will read them.

Of course both these organisations have played essential roles in ensuring, in the midst of job losses and cutbacks, that there isn't much to celebrate about the situation we find ourselves in today.  So celebrating May Day would be deeply hypocritical on their part. 

The Labour Party is just  another convenient   political vehicle for neoliberalism to pursue its interests and,  joined at the hip to Labour, the CTU has unforgivably done little  to fight a capitalist class  gone rampant. In the years of the neoliberal offensive strike action has dropped dramatically.  In 1986  there were nearly 250 work stoppages but by 2011 the figure had dropped to less than 20.

But while workers have suffered the attacks on wages and working conditions,  do-nothing trade union officials have remained safely ensconced in their high-paying jobs.  The shoddy proposal  they have for you is to  vote Labour at the next election. They are inviting you to go to the gallows willingly.

I was tempted to post something by a woman who has had a considerable influence on my politics, namely Rosa Luxemburg.  But I haven't.  This is not because I 've posted some of her  May Day-related material in previous years  but  because, on May Day 2013, I'm thinking that perhaps waxing nostalgically about the great  achievements  of the socialist  movement may gave us a warm fuzzy glow (me included) but will it get us anywhere?

The rule of capital is more pervasive than ever and it may  be more appropriate to look forward rather than backward. Where do we go from here? Or, as someone else once said: What is to be done?

Our fate in New Zealand, as elsewhere, is a society  of  perpetually high rates of unemployment, chronic poverty  and further attacks on what remains of the welfare state. I've read it described as the politics of  dispossession - our dispossession. In the past thirty years both National   and Labour Government's  have raised  the rate of exploitation on labour, plundered the environment mercilessly and collapsed the social wage so our rulers can have so  much more.  And it has all been done with the assistance of  gutless trade union leaderships.

The situation will not change  until there is a rise in political resistance and popular unrest.  We saw a brief - but inspiring - example of such through the Occupy movement.

And we must confront capitalism. While this will have our so-called Labour lefties  running down the street screaming hysterically, it is the only way.

We cannot do anything about poverty,  and growing social distress generally,  without confronting and attacking the accumulation of wealth   in fewer and fewer hands. 

Although Russel Norman and the Green Party  would you like to con you into believing otherwise, environmental issues cannot be solved by a mere tinkering with the levers of capitalism. There is no such thing as a 'green capitalism'. We must confront and attack the corporations  that seek to plunder this country and the world. They are not part of the 'solution' as former socialist  Russel Norman claims.

I'm thinking that we should use May Day 2013 to reflect on changing the world.  There is still a world to win.  It is time to start making our own history again. We should remind ourselves constantly that those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Rosa said that.


  1. Great column, Steve. You have been one of the few bloggers to write of May Day.

    Did you know that today was the day of the new youth rates? Not only is this youth exploitation but they undercut the wage levels of everyone else. But has there been any resistance from the CTU? We know the answer to that. On May Day these union pricks are nowhere to be seen.


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